A daily aspirin
tablet costing little more than a penny could prove to be a potent
treatment for cancer. According to an exciting report in SkyNews.com,
research has shown for the first time that the drug cuts the risk of
cancer spreading around the body by 36%. And deaths due to cancer were
reduced by around a half.
Professor Peter Rothwell, of Oxford
University Hospitals NHS Trust, said the new finding is highly
significant. He told Sky News: "If you have cancer, your main risk
of dying is from that spread rather than from the growth of the cancer
"So if you find a treatment that reduces the spread it
has a real potential as an additional treatment for people with cancer."
New cancer drugs typically cost several thousand pounds a month. But a
bottle of 100 75mg aspirin tablets can be bought for as little as £1.35.
Professor Rothwell said further trials of aspirin as a treatment for
cancer are urgently needed.
The research in The Lancet medical
journal also underlined the benefits of taking aspirin to prevent cancer.
The drug reduced the risk of developing disease by around a quarter after
just three years. Audrey Francis has been taking daily aspirin for several
years Other experts have warned against healthy people taking the drug
because it increases the risk of serious bleeding in the stomach and
But the research found the risk of bleeding diminished
after three years of treatment. Dr Kat Arney, of Cancer Research UK, said
there is growing evidence that people in their 50s and 60s can reduce
their risk of the disease by taking low dose aspirin. "But the risk of
bleeding may be higher in older people so that's not a good idea," she
"Aspirin is not for everyone. It depends on how old you are
and your history of other diseases. Talk to your GP about whether aspirin
would be suitable." Audrey Francis has been taking daily aspirin for
several years. She took part in a study at Newcastle University that
showed the drug reduced the risk of bowel cancer in patients who are
genetically predisposed to the disease.
She said: "I'm one of the
lucky ones and responding to the aspirin. "For however long that may be I
have to be grateful, because it's 17 years since I was first diagnosed
with cancer. At the time they did not know whether I would have three
months, six months or what."