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Should you take aspirin to prevent cancer?
About the author: 
WDDTY Team

Aspirin has been hailed as the great new cancer preventative - and one of the researchers who made the discovery even described it as "a huge breakthrough"

Aspirin has been hailed as the great new cancer preventative - and one of the researchers who made the discovery even described it as "a huge breakthrough". But is it? Should you start taking aspirin every day? Here are the facts.
The study explored the possibilities of aspirin preventing hereditary cancers. The two most common types of hereditary cancer are bowel and womb cancers, and around 50,000 people in the UK are newly diagnosed with either every year. Of those, just 10 per cent are hereditary - which translates into 5,000 people.
Researchers from Queen's University followed 1,000 cancer patients for up to 10 years, and found that aspirin halved the number of gene-related cancers, which means it is preventing around 2,500 cancer cases a year. That's certainly worthwhile, but hardly the huge breakthrough that the researchers, and the world's press, hailed it to be.
It's also important to understand that aspirin does not prevent cancer if you do not have a hereditary disposition for bowel and womb cancer, as many previous studies have demonstrated.
So, unless you're among the tiny minority at risk of developing hereditary cancer, here are some good reasons why you shouldn't take aspirin every day:
o one study estimates it is killing around 20,000 Americans every year, and sending another 100,000 into hospital, because of severe gastro-intestinal bleeding it commonly causes. This translates into a global death toll of around 100,000 people.
o It's a real no-no drug for the over-75s, despite what the doctor might say. In one study by Oxford University, it increased the risk of intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in the brain) seven-fold.
To read more about aspirin dangers, read Death by Aspirin on the WDDTY site (http://www.wddty.com/death-by-aspirin.html) - available to Intermediary and Advanced members only
(Source: Lancet, 2011; published online on 28 October. Doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61049-0).


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