Taking aspirin daily could be the strategy for preventing heart disease and colorectal cancer in certain people in their 50s and 60s, suggest members of a US panel.
The guidelines issued by the US Preventive Services Task Force are specifically aimed at people who face an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but who do not have elevated risks of bleeding, which can be a dangerous side effect of aspirin.
This group of people, aged 50-69, should "consider taking aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer," said the guidelines published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Low-dose aspirin might be a helpful therapy for people beginning in their 50s "who have a 10 percent or greater 10-year cardiovascular disease risk, are not at increased risk for bleeding, have a life expectancy of at least 10 years, and are willing to take low-dose aspirin daily for at least 10 years."
More research is needed to determine if aspirin could be helpful to those under 50, or to those 70 and older.
Heart disease, cancer or stroke were blamed for over half of all deaths in the United States in 2011, according to the guidelines. Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women and a leading cause of cancer death.
The USPSTF said it studied the benefits and risks and found aspirin use "would improve overall quality of life, or reduce illness, for most men and women without elevated bleeding risk when initiated between the ages of 40 and 69 years for lifetime use."