An over-the-counter health supplement, Glucosamine, commonly taken by elderly people may also helps to prolong life, suggests US researchers.
They believed that the supplement could have similar protective properties to aspirin, but without the chance of developing stomach ulcers that comes with taking the latter, the Telegraph reported.
Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Centre in Seattle observed 77,500 people aged over 50, and found those taking glucosamine were 13 per cent less likely to die over an eight-year period, than those who did not.
They believe the supplement might have protective anti-inflammatory properties. However, they said there was only "limited evidence" this was the case.
Their study indicated those on glucosamine were 13 per cent less likely to die of cancer and 41 per cent less likely to die of respiratory disease, than those who did not.
"Although bias cannot be ruled out, these results suggest that glucosamine may provide some mortality benefit," they wrote.
The study results were adjusted to try to take account of factors that could skew the results, such as age, gender, whether people smoked and social class.
However, it is possible that glucosamine has no real life-protective properties, and what the results actually show is that people who take glucosamine tend to take better general care of themselves.
An increasing body of evidence suggests that aspirin protects against a range of cancers, but this evidence does not at present exist for glucosamine.
The findings were reported in the European Journal of Epidemiology.