Most of us reach for aspirin when we’re feeling aches and pains. You might even take a low-dosage of it on a daily basis for its heart health benefits. But it turns out, that’s not the only medical boost you can get from regularly taking these pills.
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association claims that taking low-dose aspirin at least three times a week can help lower your risk of developing cancer. Researchers observed 146,153 participants aged between 55 and 74 years old for more than a decade before coming to this conclusion.
Those who took aspirin multiple times a week were shown to have a decreased risk of developing all types of cancer by 15 percent, plus a lower risk of overall mortality by 19 percent. Interestingly, those percentages were even more promising for overweight individuals who lowered their chances of gastrointestinal cancer by 28 percent and colon cancer by 34 percent.
It’s pretty incredible that something most of us only think about when we have a headache can have an even bigger and better impact on our health. Although the researchers are still looking into exactly why the body seems to react to aspirin this way, they suspect it has something to do with its anti-inflammatory properties — particularly when it comes to gut health. “Gastrointestinal cancers are highly inflammation-associated cancers, and the strongest effect [shown in their study] has been with gastrointestinal cancers,” lead researcher Holli Loomans-Kroop told US News & World Report.
There is still plenty more research needed to back up these findings and uncover the full potential aspirin’s ability to ward off cancer, but this is certainly promising news in the meantime. You should talk with your doctor before adding more aspirin to your daily routine, though. It’s usually harmless, but the blood-thinning aspect might cause problems for some people even in low doses.
We love learning simple ways to keep ourselves healthy, especially when it’s with something we already reach for in our medicine cabinets.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, FirstForWomen.com.