Can Aspirin Prevent Cancer?

a bottle of aspirin spilled out onto table top

You may have seen studies in the news suggesting that aspirin may be helpful in preventing cancer. But you should not use aspirin on a regular basis without first checking with your health care provider.

This is because frequent aspirin use can cause serious health problems such as internal bleeding, which is why no public health organization, including the American Cancer Society, currently recommends taking aspirin solely to reduce cancer risk.

The clearest link to date is between aspirin and one cancer type: colorectal cancer. Scientific evidence shows that long-term daily aspirin use will lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer. However, it can take several years from the time when aspirin use is started until the risk of developing colorectal cancer is reduced. And, it remains unclear whether the potential for reducing your cancer risk is worth the risks associated with taking aspirin frequently. The research for other types of cancers is even less clear.

Bottom line

People who are wondering if they should take aspirin should talk to their own health care provider, who knows their individual medical history and is aware of other medications they may be taking, and can take this into account when weighing the risks and benefits of aspirin use.

  • Do not take start taking an aspirin without talking with your doctor.
  • If your doctor has prescribed aspirin for you, take it exactly as prescribed.
  • Keep in mind that “baby” aspirin is not the same as “regular” aspirin.
  • If you take daily aspirin, see your doctor regularly so you can be watched closely for bleeding.

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The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.


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