Daily Aspirin – More Benefit Than Risk?

Many people take a low dose of aspirinevery day to lower their risk of a furtherheart attack or stroke, or if they have a high risk of either. While the anticipated benefit is a lower chance of vascular disease, taking daily aspirin is not without danger: for instance it raises the risk of internal bleeding. Hence the important need to discuss beforehand with the doctor, "In my case, doc, should I be taking daily aspirin?" But this week, the publication of three studies in The Lancet, has added a new benefit to the equation: cancer prevention, and stirred up the pros and cons debate. In those studies, Professor Peter Rothwell of Oxford University in the UK, a world expert on aspirin, and colleagues, confirm that for people in middle age, a daily dose of aspirin can cut the risk of developing several cancers, with effects starting after only two to three years rather than the ten or so previously thought. Moreover, they propose that treatment with daily aspirin may also prevent an existing, localized cancer from spreading to other parts of the body, which Rothwell says is just as important to know about, since that's when cancer becomes deadly. If you follow their reasoning, we appear to have reached a crucial point in the debate: on the one hand we have the benefit that aspirin can reduce cancer, stroke and heart attacks, which are much more likely to lead to disability or death, and on the other, we have the risk of internal bleeding, which is less harmful than those diseases. Such arguments cause more people, even those presently enjoying good health, to ask the question: "Should...
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