Research involving over 600,000 people found long-term aspirin use reduced the likelihood of a person developing a range of digestive cancers, as well as leukaemia and cancer of the lung and prostate.
For the study, researchers compared patients who were prescribed aspirin over a long period of time (the average length was 7.7 years) with non-aspirin users and assessed the incidences of a number of cancers.
Those prescribed with aspirin showed a 47% reduction in liver and oesophageal cancer incidence, a 38% reduction in gastric cancer incidence, a 34% reduction in pancreatic cancer incidence and a 24% reduction in colorectal cancer incidence.
Lead researcher, Professor Kelvin Tsoi from the University of Hong Kong, who presented the study at the 25th UEG Week in Barcelona, said: “The findings demonstrate that the long-term use of aspirin can reduce the risk of developing many major cancers.
“What should be noted is the significance of the results for cancers within the digestive tract, where the reductions in cancer incidence were all very substantial, especially for liver and oesophageal cancer.”
The effect of long-term use of aspirin on cancer incidence was also examined for cancers outside of the digestive system. Here, a significant reduction was shown for leukaemia, lung and prostate cancer.
Aspirin wasn’t found to have an impact on the incidence of breast, bladder, kidney and multiple myeloma cancers.
The drug is used across the globe to treat a number of health conditions, ranging from short-term pain relief to long-term prescriptions.
While the use of aspirin is subject to debate within the medical community, a recent study found that patients who stopped taking aspirin were 37% more likely to have an adverse cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, than those who continued with their prescription.