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Surprising Ways Aspirin Protects Against Gastrointestinal Cancer

Surprising Ways Aspirin Protects Against Gastrointestinal Cancer

In addition to introducing Emily Wickersham as the future Agent Bishop, the broadcast of the NCIS episode, Gut Check, challenged the team’s newest associate to solve the mystery of a security breech involving the Secretary of the Navy. Bishop’s commitment to solving the case (there was a bug planted in SECNAV’s pen) earned her a permanent desk. Seems a successful gut check can change the direction of a career—and, it turns out, your gut health!

A study followed over 130,000 people and found those taking two or more regular aspirin (325mg) a week for at least 16 years had a 20 percent lower risk of gastrointestinal cancers from the esophagus all the way to the exit.

Salicylic acid, aspirin’s active compound, has been used to treat pain for at least 5,000 years. We know it helps prevent second heart attacks (one 81mg aspirin 2x a day with a glass of warm water before and after), while also protecting against nine other cancers. And thanks to this study, we have an idea about how much is needed to block gastro-cancers and how long you have to take it to get the benefits of aspirin! We also know aspirin’s protection fades within four years of not taking it regularly.

There are risks from aspirin, such as increased bleeding, and you can’t take it with some other meds, but benefits keep adding up. So, check with your doc to see if it’s good for you—and your gut!

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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