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Aspirin and the Reduction of Cancer-Related Deaths

Aspirin and the Reduction of Cancer-Related Deaths

These days aspirin is made in a lab, but extracts from the bark of the willow tree were used to treat pain in Egypt as long ago as 3000 B.C. In 400 B.C., Hippocrates prescribed willow leaf tea to ease the pain of childbirth.

Salicylic acid, the compound produced by the willow, has stood the test of time as a medicine. Today its uses have expanded far beyond treating pain and inflammation. It has been shown to help prevent heart attacks and strokes, especially for those folks at high risk. There’s also mounting evidence that it helps prevent cancer and reduces cancer-associated deaths.

Research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting explored these benefits. A Harvard study looked at data on more than 130,000 people and found all cancer mortality risk was 7 percent lower for women and 15 percent lower for men who regularly used aspirin—compared to non-users. The strongest reduction in relative risk was for colorectal cancer—31 percent for women and 30 percent for men who regularly took aspirin. Women who took aspirin had an 11 percent lower risk of dying of breast cancer, and men who took aspirin had a 23 percent lower risk of dying of prostate cancer. There were benefits at dosages ranging from 0.5 standard aspirin tablets weekly to seven aspirin tablets weekly.

If you take other meds, talk with your doc before taking aspirin. Then always take it with a half glass of warm water before and after.

Medically reviewed in October 2019.

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