An aspirin a day to keep cancer away?

provided by Mayo Clinic

spirin, the old standby for aches and pains, helps decrease the risk for a number of diseases, including several cancers, according to the December issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. Aspirin has been shown to:

  • Reduce the risk of heart attacks. A study of 22,000 physicians published in 1989 showed a 44 percent decrease in heart attacks among those who took aspirin every other day.
  • Reduce the risk of stroke in people at high risk for stroke.
  • Reduce the risk of colon cancer. A 1995 study found that people who took aspirin daily were much less likely – about half – to develop colon cancer.
  • Reduce the risk of developing cancers of the esophagus, stomach, rectum, prostate and pancreas.

    Aspirin reduces the tendency of blood to clot, which leads to reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. Scientists aren't sure exactly how aspirin may prevent cancer. They theorize that it limits the production of prostaglandins, a hormone-like substance that may be involved in tumor growth.

    Ask your doctor if an aspirin a day is right for you. It's often recommended to prevent heart disease for men over age 40 and women past menopause. For some people, a daily dose of aspirin is not recommended because of potential side effects or other medical conditions.