A daily low dose aspirin pill taken with a glass of milk could be a simple way to avoid dying of cancer, research suggests.
Taking aspirin for several years can cut the risk of death from a wide range of cancers by between a third and half, a landmark study has found.
Other evidence indicates that calcium in milk might enhance the drug’s beneficial effects.
Scientists are stopping short of urging healthy people to take aspirin, which is known to increase the risk of internal bleeding. But they say the new findings shift the risk-benefit balance in favour of aspirin, and could lead to a revision of medical guidelines.
Aspirin treatment to ward off cancer would probably be most effective between the ages of about 45 to 50, which is when when most cancers start to develop, say the researchers.
The drug is already taken by millions of Britons at risk of heart attacks or strokes.
Regular low doses of aspirin help to prevent the changes that lead to narrowed arteries and blood clots. But in recent years evidence has started to emerge of much wider benefits from aspirin, leading to its description as a “miracle drug”.
A previous study has shown that a 75 milligram dose of aspirin a day can reduce death rates from bowel cancer by more than a third.
Earlier this year US scientists reported that the same low dose cut the risk of men developing prostate cancer by up to 30%.
The research is published in an early online edition of The Lancet medical journal.