Aspirin a Day May Prevent Cancer

by Lois Etienne on January 7, 2011

in Senior Health and Safety

Boomer-Daughter-Embracing-MotherQuestion: Aspirin has often been touted as a miracle drug. What’s the latest research on aspirin and is this something I can recommend to my mother, who is 80? What are other ways that I can help her stay healthy?

The wonders of aspirin continue to be revealed by research, the latest of which comes from Oxford University. Researchers there discovered a 20 percent drop in cancer deaths among patients taking a low-dose aspirin daily.

The results showed that aspirin reduced death due to any cancer during the trials. But the benefits of aspirin only became apparent after taking the drug for five years or more, suggesting aspirin works by slowing or preventing the early stages of the disease so that the effect is only seen much later.

After five years of taking aspirin, the data from patients in the trials showed that death rates were 34 percent less for all cancers and as much as 54 percent less for gastrointestinal cancers, such as esophagus, stomach, bowel, pancreas and liver cancers.

Aspirin is already known to be beneficial for those at high risk of heart disease. But among healthy people, the benefit in lower chances of heart problems only marginally outweighs the small risk of stomach bleeds.

The large size of the effect now seen in preventing cancer deaths may begin to tip the balance in favor of taking aspirin, the scientists suggest, but say that it is a matter for the health groups that write treatment guidelines. However, in the U.S. it is recommended that those 80 and older proceed with caution, so you will want to encourage your mother to discuss aspirin use with her doctor before suggesting this to her.

Supporting your mom’s nutritious eating habits and activity levels also are important to her continued health. If she lives alone, a caregiver companion can help her achieve those goals as well as to put your mind at ease. Home Instead CAREGiversSM can go a long way to assist older adults such as your mother by providing companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, errands and shopping. And that can be just as valuable as any medication in helping seniors age well.

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