Aspirin — it's not just for hangovers. The commonplace painkiller has long been known to reduce risk for stroke, heart attack and certain forms of cancer if taken at a low dose, on a daily basis.
Now, as Live Science reported from the American Association for Cancer Research's yearly meeting, a new study out of the University of Southern California indicates that people with a regular aspirin-taking regimen were 34% less likely to develop glioma brain tumors than those who didn't take the painkiller.
The study's lead author, USC associate professor of neurology Dr. Rose Lai, told Live Science that this round of research was much larger in scope than previous efforts have been. Gliomas are rare, so studies on them tend to be small; this one compared 4,000 people who had the tumors to 4,000 people who didn't, asking both groups which medications they'd taken and for how long. Those who'd kept to the daily aspirin routine longer, Lai's team found, had a lower chance of developing glioma.
The study was conducted using self-reported data, which introduces the possibility of human error. Other types of painkillers didn't seem to have any effect, though. And as Lai told Live Science, aspirin has inhibited glioma growth in animals. Plus, aspirin combats an inflammatory substance called COX-2, which is also found in gliomas. It's thought to "promote tumor growth," she said.
But wait, there's more: Looking at five trials and 42 studies, researchers at the University of Cardiff concluded that a regular, low dose of aspirin might improve cancer survival odds and keep the disease from spreading. Good job, aspirin.