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Video: Study: Daily aspirin keeps many cancers away

  1. Transcript of: Study: Daily aspirin keeps many cancers away

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: In the advertisements for aspirin , on this and other broadcasts, they for years have called it a wonder drug, and a good many doctors believe it is something of a wonder. Millions of people take a half aspirin every day, for example, for heart health. Now comes a new study that shows aspirin may be much more effective than anyone knew at helping prevent cancer deaths. Our report tonight from our chief science correspondent Robert Bazell .

    Unidentified Man: You need to do the preventative things that you need to do for your heart health.

    ROBERT BAZELL reporting: For years, the ads have called it the wonder drug that works wonders. Science has proven that a daily low dose aspirin tablet reduces the risk of heart disease and strongly suggests it might lower colon cancer risk, as well. Now a survey of other studies from British doctors suggest it may also cut deaths for many other cancers.

    Dr. CHARLES FUCHS (Dana Farber Cancer Institute): I think it's very important. The compelling evidence that aspirin can reduce deaths related to cancer is vitally important in our effort to prevent the burden of cancer in this country.

    BAZELL: British researchers examined eight studies with a total of more than 25,000 patients. They concluded that in addition to colon cancer , a daily low dose of aspirin reduced the death rate from esophagus, pancreatic, stomach, lung and prostate cancers. And they hypothesize that taking aspirin daily could reduce the overall cancer death rate by as much as 30 percent over a 20-year period.

    Dr. MARK POCHAPIN (New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center): We know that chronic inflammation increases the risk and can lead to cancer. So it makes sense that aspirin as an anti-inflammatory may actually act as an anti- cancer drug , as well.

    BAZELL: There are two reasons for caution about this study. In some people, regular aspirin use leads to stomach bleeding, a serious side effect. Also, this research is an analysis of other studies. More clinical research will be needed before these results are widely accepted. Because of the known benefits of daily low dose aspirins, most medical experts already suggest that people have a conversation with their doctor about whether it would be a good idea to take it. This latest study might seem -- make it seem -- the benefits seem stronger, but, Brian , it's still that conversation with your doctor.

    WILLIAMS: That's right . But potentially incredible news, as you point out. Bob Bazell , as always, thanks.

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