Aspirin's long list of benefits now include cancer prevention.
Researchers found that women who took low dose aspirin every other day for 18 years ended up with about a 20 percent lower risk of colon cancer, according to a study published this week in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
“This study provides some surprising new information since it wasn’t thought that such a low dose, especially every other day, would have an effect on cancer,” said Nancy Cook, the study’s lead author from Boston’s Brigham, Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Colon and rectal cancers are the third most common types of cancer in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. This year alone, the National Cancer Institute reports 102,480 new patients will be diagnosed with colon cancer and 40,340 will be diagnosed with rectal cancer.
The new study included nearly 40,000 women 45 and older who were part of the Women’s Health Study. The participants were randomly assigned to either take 100 milligrams of aspirin or a placebo every other day. Researchers followed the women for up to 18 years from the start of the study.
Women who took aspirin were more likely to have gastrointestinal bleeding (8.3 percent versus 7.3 percent) and peptic ulcers (7.3 percent verses 6.2 percent).
The researchers pointed out that not all women enrolled in the Women's Health Study were followed up with, and that cases of gastrointestinal bleeding were only self-reported.