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Mar 20, 2012 6:49 PM

Can Aspirin prevent cancer?

(NBC) - There's new evidence a drug might help treat cancer and it costs just pennies a pill.

It's one of the oldest and cheapest drugs you can get, now it seems the old stand-by pain reliever -- Aspirin -- may also help fight cancer.

The new research is preliminary but a collection of data from the U-K has shown a daily aspirin may help prevent and possibly treat a variety of cancers of the colon, prostate, lung and breast.

Dr. Andrew Chan of Massachusetts General Hospital says, "people who take aspirin seem to have a lower risk of dying from cancer."

Experts say it's too early to recommend the general population start popping a daily aspirin but the new research is intriguing to cancer doctors.

Millions of Americans already take aspirin to help prevent heart attacks and stroke. But aspirin doesn't come without the potential for side effects, like bleeding and stomach ulcers.

For now, experts say the best cancer and heart disease prevention strategies are exercise and healthy eating.

"I think overall those things will have a more meaningful impact than simply taking an aspirin a day," says Chan.

Stronger studies of the so-called "wonder drug's" effects on cancer are ongoing.

Doctors also say taking an aspirin at the first signs of a heart attack may help prevent damage to the heart.

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