Based on recommendations set forth by the American Heart Association (AHA), an aspirin a day does help to keep heart attacks at bay. By taking a daily low dose of aspirin, individuals who are heart attack survivors or are at high risk for having a heart attack reduced their risk of death from either a stroke or heart attack by 50 percent.
Aspirin has many uses, such as reducing fevers, alleviating pain, and treating inflammation. However, aspirin has become increasingly popular for its use in preventing heart attacks and strokes. Aspirin has been shown to reduce apoptotic (cellular death) activity and blocks free radical damage that promotes endothelial dysfunction.
Although known for its cardioprotective effects, aspirin is now being touted as an anticancer drug. In a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers explored the effects of aspirin, NSAIDs, and acetaminophen on ovarian cancer. In a meta-analysis of ovarian cancer using data from 12 population-based case-control studies, the results show:
- Aspirin and high-dose NSAIDs were associated with a lower risk of ovarian cancer.
- The risk of ovarian cancer was significantly reduced among daily low-dose aspirin users.
- The same low-dose aspirin regimen used for the prevention of heart attacks also helps to reduce ovarian cancer risk from 20 to 34 percent.
The unifying theme in both cancer and heart disease is chronic inflammation — a condition that aspirin specifically targets. While the evidence in favor of the benefits of aspirin is strong, you should begin taking aspirin if advised to do so by your healthcare provider. As a blood thinner, aspirin can cause complications such as intestinal bleeding or hemorrhagic stroke.