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Aspirin Just Once a Month Cuts Cancer Risk by 22 Percent

Update Date: Apr 01, 2013 10:09 AM EDT

New research shows that taking an aspirin just once a month could cut the risk of developing cancer by almost a fourth.

Researchers at Queen's University in Ireland studied data from the National Cancer Institute, Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer trial of aspirin and ibuprofen on cancer risk and found that the "wonder drug" painkiller already taken by millions to prevent heart disease and stroke also significantly reduces the risk of developing head and neck tumors.

Researchers found that taking aspirin on a weekly and monthly basis reduced the risk of developing head and neck cancers by 22 percent in people aged 55 to 74, according to the study published Feb 28 in the British Journal of Cancer.

Researchers found that aspirin was most effective in preventing throat cancer.

However, researchers found that taking aspirin and ibuprofen daily as not significantly associated with reduced cancer risk.

"Regular aspirin use was associated with a significant 22 per cent reduction in head and neck cancer risk," researchers concluded in the study.

"No association was observed with regular ibuprofen use," they wrote. "Aspirin may have potential as a chemopreventive agent but further investigation is warranted."

UK experts say that the latest research is encouraging in the battle against rising mouth cancer rates.

"Mouth cancer cases are increasing, so this piece of research is encouraging," said Dr. Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, according to the Daily Express.

"Regular aspirin use has been linked to preventing a number of cancers, and if it is a particularly successful practice for warding off mouth cancer, it should act as a springboard for more research."

However, he warned that people shouldn't be fooled into thinking that aspirin use counteracts the danger of mouth cancer.

"If you smoke, drink alcohol to excess, have a poor diet and are at risk from picking up the human papilloma­virus (HPV), aspirin use will be irrelevant," he said.

The latest research is not the first to link aspirin to cancer prevention.  Past studies found that people who take the painkiller are less likely to develop bowel, beast, liver and other types of cancer.

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