Aspirin 'lowers cancer risk'

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Aspirin could help reduce the risk of developing three types of cancer, a study has found.

Researchers from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia, found that a daily dose of the painkiller could cut the risk of developing colorectal, prostate and breast cancer in vulnerable populations by 15 per cent.

A relatively high dosage of 100mg every day for five years is required before any effect on cancer risk would begin to take place, however.

Despite this after the five years elapsed a significant risk reduction takes place, the study found.

Aspirin use cut the risk of prostate cancer by 20 per cent while the chances of developing colorectal cancer diminished by nearly a third.

The study's authors warn that the side-effects of taking a daily dose of aspirin – which include intestinal bleeding or even a stroke – rule out widespread use of the medication on a daily basis.

Despite this in some situations aspirin could have a role to play. Maria Elena Martinez of the Arizona Cancer Centre and E. Robert Greenberg of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Centre in Seattle write in today's Journal of American Medicine periodical that "if aspirin were shown to truly prevent a multitude of common cancers, there might be clinical situations in which daily adult-strength aspirin would be indicated".

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