When Paul Weller sang about the bitterest pill (he ever had to swallow) he probably wasn't referring to taking aspirin. Though at his age, he might want to start thinking about it.
A team of researchers from Oxford University has reviewed a number of long-term studies and concluded that people could seriously reduce their risk of cancer by taking a low-dose aspirin each day starting from middle-age.
The study, published in the Lancet this week, suggests 75mg of aspirin daily for five years could reduce cancer deaths by more than one fifth (21%), and bowel cancer deaths by more than one third (34%).
This is significant stuff. It has long been known that aspirin can help prevent strokes and heart disease but this is the first study to reveal it could also be very effective in the prevention of common cancers.
So is trusty old aspirin the wonder drug we've been waiting for?
Well, the evidence is certainly very compelling and the fact we're talking about an easily accessible over-the counter medicine is particularly encouraging. However, before Cancer Council starts encouraging everyone to start popping aspirin, we'd like to see more research and clearer guidelines about what age groups will benefit the most, on what dose and for how long.
While the potential is great, taking aspirin shouldn't be seen as an alternative to screening or making healthy lifestyle choices. And like any medication there are risks and side-effects associated with aspirin so it's a good idea to consult your doctor before making it part of your daily routine.
It's very exciting to think that a little pill each day could have a profound effect on reducing cancer risk, and it's certainly something we'll be keeping a keen eye on.
Now if someone could just develop a little pill that gives us the motivation to exercise regularly and allows us to eat whatever we want without putting on weight, we'll be very happy indeed. Let us know what a magic pill would do for you...
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