(WMC) - Many of us have heard that an aspirin a day can help prevent heart attack and stroke. Now, you can add cancer prevention to the benefits. One might even call the pill a "wonder drug."
"That's the nickname for aspirin. The 'wonder pill.' The 'wonder drug,' because it does so many things," said Dr. Mark Castellaw of Baptist Medical Group.
The new study from Queen Mary University of London found over a period of 10 years, aspirin can cut bowel cancer incidence by 35 percent, and deaths from the disease by 40 percent. Esophageal cancer rates dropped by 30 percent; deaths dropped by 50 percent. Stomach cancer rates were down by 30 percent and deaths were down by 35 percent.
Though not as strong, there is also evidence of a reduction in lung, breast and prostate cancers. Still, Castellaw has a strong warning for anyone thinking about starting an aspirin regimen.
"People see these reports and say I need to go and get some baby aspirin," he said. "Aspirin can have a lot of side effects. Gastrointestinal side effects: bleeding, hemorrhaging."
The new study shows that benefits can outweigh these risks in some patients, but Castellaw says a doctor needs to make that determination for you.
"No one should just start taking Aspirin unless they check with their doctor to make sure there isn't an issue with other medicine that they are taking right now," Castellaw added.
The London research team found it took about three years to see any health benefit of daily aspirin, and ideally, they say, one would take between 75 to 100 mg for at least five years to get the full effects.