Three new studies, two in The Lancet and one in Lancet Oncology, say that people who take aspirin every day may have a lower risk of cancer, reports The New York Times' Roni Caryn Rabin. The studies also showed that aspirin may prevent metastasis when taken by cancer patients. Cancer Minute has more on the Lancet Oncology study here.
However, as with most medications, aspirin also has its side effects, and those need to be weighed against the possible benefits before patients decide to start an aspirin regimen, says Nancy Shute at the NPR Shots blog. "Even if it works, that benefit comes with costs, including an increased risk of ulcers and internal bleeding," Shute says, especially as the reduction in cancer risk wasn't really seen in the studies until patients had been taking aspirin daily for at least three years. Two other recent studies — the Women's Health Study and the Physicians' Health Study — did not find a cancer risk benefit to taking aspirin, Shute adds, though that might be because those studies were done on low-dose aspirin.