(NBC News) The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a group of medical experts that helps shape how patients are treated, says there’s good evidence a daily low-dose aspirin may help prevent both colon cancer and heart attacks and stroke.
“The recommendations speak very directly at people without heart disease in the past, but who are at risk for heart disease in the future,” explains Dr. Allen J. Taylor of the Medstar Heart and Vascular Institute. “And there, aspirin can be a preventive therapy.”
The recommendation is not one-size-fits-all because aspirin comes with a well-known risk for internal bleeding.
Last year the Food and Drug Administration cited that possibility when it recommended against taking aspirin to prevent a first heart attack.
This latest advice zeroes in on who might benefit the most: People in their 50s and 60s.
Regardless of age, cardiologists stress people need to talk with their doctors to see if aspirin would help more than it would harm, and although aspirin has also been called a “wonder drug” there’s no such thing as a magic pill.
Doctors also recommend quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.