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Aspirin cuts risk of dying from bowel cancer by 30pc

Aspirin can reduce the chances of dying from bowel cancer by almost a third, research has shown.

Patients who took a daily dose of the pain killer for at least nine months after being diagnosed cut the likelihood of the disease killing them by 30pc.

Taking aspirin for any length of time after diagnosis reduced the odds of dying from cancer by 23pc compared with not taking aspirin at all.

The study looked at 4,500 bowel cancer patients in the Netherlands diagnosed between 1998 and 2007.

A quarter were not aspirin users, another quarter took aspirin only after diagnosis, while the remaining group took it both before and after developing cancer.

Lead researcher Dr Gerrit-Jan Liefers, from Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, said: "Our findings could have profound clinical implications. In this study, we showed the therapeutic effect of a widely available, familiar drug that costs mere pennies per day.

"It's possible that some older people may have other health problems which mean that they are not well enough to have chemotherapy. Bowel cancer is more common in older people so these results could be a big advance in treatment of the disease, particularly in this group. But we need further research to confirm this."

His team is now planning a randomised controlled trial which will target the over-70s.

The results are published in the British Journal of Cancer, owned by Cancer Research UK.

Sarah Lyness, executive director policy and information at the charity, said: "This study adds to the growing evidence about the benefits of aspirin. The latest evidence suggests that the drug not only reduces the risk of dying from cancer, but can also help prevent the disease from developing in the first place.

"Anyone thinking of taking aspirin to cut their risk of cancer should talk to their GP first."

Meanwhile, a pizza topping herb contains a compound that can kill prostate cancer, laboratory studies have shown.

Scientists tested carvacrol, a component of oregano, on lines of cancer cells. They found that the chemical induced apoptosis, or programmed 'cell suicide'.

Apoptosis is one of the ways the body rids itself of malfunctioning or malignant cells, such as those found in tumours.