The Right Time to Take Aspirin">

Many experts say a daily aspirin can help prevent cancer and heart disease. But are the risks worth the possible? 

When to take aspirin to help prevent cancer and heart disease.

Nearly one-fifth of all Americans – roughly 60 million people – take low-dose aspirin every day to help ward off heart disease. Now, new studies show popping a baby aspirin daily can help prevent cancer. But should you really take aspirin that often? Here’s how to tell if daily low-dose aspirin is right for you.

A series of large recent studies shows that people who take 75 mg of aspirin daily for at least five years reduce their risk of dying from cancer by about 20 percent. Other research has concluded that people who take daily aspirin have a 41 percent lower chance of getting liver cancer, specifically, than non-aspirin users. Researchers think aspirin helps prevent cancer by reducing inflammation that may cause the disease.

Despite these impressive numbers, the American Cancer Society says no one should start taking daily aspirin for cancer. The drug, even in a baby dose – 81 mg – increases the risk of internal bleeding, ulcers, and one type of stroke. A recent study of more than 100,000 people found taking aspirin daily boosts your chance of debilitating or life-threatening bleeding by 30 percent. “We don’t know how long you take it before the prevention starts, and how long the prevention lasts after you stop taking it,” says cancer-study specialist Dr. John Baron of the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina. “It can take years of taking aspirin for the cancer benefits to begin – but that could be 10 years of bleeding without benefits, and that’s a problem.”

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