Leading article: The little tablet that could (and still can)

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The Independent Online

Scarcely a month passes, it seems, without the humble aspirin offering up a new benefit. Yesterday it was announced that this most ubiquitous of medicines could cut the risk of several cancers by as much as half. At a time when any medical innovation seems expressly designed to stretch even the capacious wallet of the NHS, the discovery of another use for aspirin – in addition to heart attacks and strokes, diabetes, dementia and, let's not forget, common or garden pain – offers glad tidings that deserve to be shouted from the rooftops.

The results of the trial were not uniform across all cancers. But the researchers believe that some positive effect will probably apply generally. Nor – in more good news for the frugal – was the benefit increased by higher doses; the most positive results followed long, but low, usage. The downside – unfortunately there has to be one – is that some people suffer internal bleeding from long-term or high doses of aspirin. As of yesterday, though, the balance of risk may have shifted in favour of taking, rather than not taking, an aspirin a day. As our report suggests, a brand new treatment, priced at 1p a shot, which could do all that aspirin can do, would be hailed a miracle cure. So be duly grateful when you buy your next pack.