More than 130,000 deaths would be avoided over a 20-year period if Britain's 50- to 64-year-olds took a daily aspirin for 10 years, because the beneficial effects continue even when the aspirin is stopped, the authors say.
A research team led by Professor Jack Cuzick, head of the centre for cancer prevention at Queen Mary University of London, concluded that people between 50 and 65 should consider regularly taking the 75mg low-dosage tablets.
Cuzick said that taking aspirin "looks to be the most important thing we can do to reduce cancer after stopping smoking and reducing obesity, and will probably be much easier to implement".
In a briefing to journalists, the scientist added that he had been dosing himself for the last four years, keeping the tablets beside his bed. "I take aspirin as part of a bedtime ritual every day and I can achieve that quite easily," he said.
However, to obtain the newfound benefits of the drug, people would have to take aspirin for at least five years and probably 10, the review said.
Aspirin was originally developed as a painkiller and treatment for fever and inflammation, but more than a century after it was first synthesised from willow bark, researchers have found more medical uses for it.
It has been demonstrated to reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes as well as the chances of some cancers. But the big question has been whether the benefits outweigh the harms, because aspirin can cause stomach bleeds, which could be potentially fatal in some people.
Concluding that the benefits outweighed the risks, Cuzick's team, writing in the cancer journal Annals of Oncology, said that by taking low-dose aspirin every day for 10 years, bowel cancer cases could be cut by about 35% and deaths by 40%. Aspirin could reduce rates of oesophageal and stomach cancers by 30% and deaths from them by 35% to 50%.
More, if you hit the link above.