(NBC News) In an age where we're always looking for the next best thing in medicine a new study boosts evidence that one of the oldest drugs may be the best.
Aspirin is well known as a pain reliever and for its ability to reduce the risk for heart attacks and stroke.
Increasingly the medication, the cheapest drug on the market, is also a strong player in the fight against cancer.
Dr. Nancy Cook and colleagues at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston conducted a randomized trial of about 40,000 women.
They found a 20-percent reduction in the risk of colo-rectal cancer was found in those who took a 100-milligram dose of aspirin every other day for ten years.
The dosage is about the same as taking a daily baby aspirin.
"It's important to consider low dose aspirin because it has side effects and the side effects increase with the dose," Dr. Cook points out.
Side effects included upset stomachs and, more rarely, gastrointestinal bleeding.
A doctor can help navigate the risks vs. benefits for each person.
Other studies have found aspirin may also reduce the chances of developing cancers of the esophagus, breast and skin, including skin cancer's deadliest form, malignant melanoma.