London: A new study by British researchers has revealed that taking aspirin regularly can cut the long-term risk of cancer.
The researchers found that it can reduce the risk by 60 per cent in people with a family history of the disease.
The landmark research covering 16 countries is the first proof that the painkiller has a preventive action that is likely to benefit anyone using it every day.
In the study of 861 patients with Lynch syndrome, a genetic fault leading to bowel and other cancers at an early age, half were given two aspirins a day, 600 mg in total, for two years.
The remainder were given placebo, or dummy, pills, according to the study
Initially, the researchers found no change in cancer rates between the groups. But when they followed up the study after five years, they detected a significant difference.
By 2010 a total of 19 new bowel cancers had been identified among those given aspirin and 34 among the placebo group - a cut of 44 per cent among those taking the drug.
When researchers focused on the 60 per cent of patients who they were certain had conscientiously taken aspirin for at least two years, they found an even more striking result.
Just ten cancers were discovered in the aspirin group compared with 23 in the placebo group, a cut of 63 per cent.
Rates of other cancers linked to Lynch syndrome were almost halved by taking aspirin.
“What we have finally shown is that aspirin has a major preventive effect on cancer but it doesn’t become apparent until years later,” the Daily Mail quoted Professor Sir John Burn from Newcastle University, who led the research, as saying.
The results were published online in The Lancet medical journal.