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New research suggests it can improve cancer patients’ survival. But that’s just one of the ways it can save lives.
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Evidence suggests that aspirin can improve cancer patients’ chances of survival. A study presented at the European Cancer Congress has found that people with various kinds of gastrointestinal cancers are twice as likely to live for five years after diagnosis if they take aspirin rather than a placebo.
The study at Leiden University in the Netherlands found the effect in patients with stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, and oesophageal cancer.
Dr Áine McCarthy, Cancer Research UK’s science information officer, said in a statement: "This study suggests it could help improve survival for patients with tumours in their digestive system if they take the drug after being diagnosed. More research will help us find which patients might benefit from this."
However, McCarthy also warned that aspirin "can have serious side effects like internal bleeding, so cancer patients shouldn’t take it without talking to their doctor first".
The Leiden study is some of the strongest evidence so far that aspirin is useful in treatment of cancer patients.
However, it isn’t the first study to suggest that aspirin may be able to treat major health problems. Here are eight others.
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Last week the US Preventive Services Task Force, an expert panel involved in the development of medical policy, released draft recommendations saying some patients in their fifties ought to take a low dose of aspirin to reduce their risk of developing colorectal cancers, although those recommendations are not yet in place. Various trials, including a 2011 meta-analysis, have shown that aspirin can reduce the risk of colorectal cancers (and, perhaps, oesophogeal and stomach cancers) in some patients.