Aspirin has been shown to cut the risk of bowel cancer over a 10-year period, according to a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which used data from the 82,900-patient, 20-year Nurses’ Health Study.

Women who took aspirin at least twice-weekly showed a significant reduction in their risk of colorectal cancer – but this significance was not evident until more than 10 years of use. Furthermore, the higher the dose the less the risk – women who used more than 14 aspirin or other NSAIDs per week for longer than 10 years had a 53% reduced risk for cancer.

Data on the long-term risk of colorectal cancer in users of aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have until now remained limited, but the researchers say more work is required to identify whether the risks of high-dose aspirin use outweigh its benefits in this setting. High-dose aspirin has been linked repeatedly to gastrointestinal side effects, including bleeding and ulcers. In the analysis, the incidence of major gastrointestinal bleeding events went hand in hand with dose.