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Study Links Aspirin with "Dramatic" Cut in Cancer Rates

CBSNews -- Long-term cancer prevention may be as easy as taking a nightly dose of aspirin.
CBSNews -- Long-term cancer prevention may be as easy as taking a nightly dose of aspirin.

A new study from Queen Mary University in London concluded that 75 to 80mg of aspirin a day significantly lowers the risk of cancer.

If taken for 10 years, bowel cancer cases decreased by 35 percent and deaths from the disease by 40 percent, according to the research. The risk of esophageal and stomach cancers are reduced by 30 percent.

Dr. David Agus told the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts that the pill is most effective if taken long-term.

"At year five, the benefits dramatically outweigh the risk, and it continues on where the benefits grow and grow," Agus said. "So if you take aspirin for 20 years, there's a dramatic reduction in the overall death rate of people compared to the people who didn't take aspirin."

Agus says aspirin is effective against cancer because it is an anti-inflammatory.

"We think the daily dose is something that lowers or tempers the inflammation, reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease over time," he said.

For 60-year-olds, a daily aspirin regimen for 10 years increases the risk of stomach bleeding from 2.2 percent to 3.6 percent. Agus advises patients get the okay from their doctor before adding the pill to your daily routine.

"Doctors really need to talk to their patients," Agus said. "It's not for everybody. If you have upset stomach or bleeding, it's probably not for you."

Agus says that while the preventative benefits are the same for men and women aged 50-65, women should start taking aspirin later in life than men.

"Women get heart disease a little later and cancer a little later," he said. "So while it's beneficial in both, the recommendations are starting it a little later in women than in men."
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