Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorMay lower the risk of colon cancer — substantially.

A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds one aspirin every other day can cut the risk of colon cancer by up to 42%. That’s huge.

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The study followed 34,000 women for 18 years, and found those who took an aspirin, on average, three times per week, had that substantial drop in colon cancer compared to women who instead took a placebo.

Other studies have shown men may get cancer protection from aspirin — this is the first large study to show the same may be the case for women.

We’re not really sure why something as simple and old-fashioned as a little aspirin may fight cancer, but somewhere on a molecular level in the intestines, it keeps good cells from becoming malignant.

What was especially interesting is that the women in the study who took aspirin the longest saw the greatest drop in their risk of cancer. In fact, the greatest protection was seen after 10 years of every-other-day aspirin.

You may wonder, why every other day? Aspirin can have side effects, such as stomach bleeding, so researchers thought it best to try a lower weekly dose, an idea that worked, since there were fewer side effects and still effective protection.

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BTW, it’s not believed that more aspirin is better, so gobbling a bottle a day won’t help you more.

Bottom line, if you have a family history of colon cancer or polyps, aspirin may do a body good, male or female.

Now let’s say you have no family history. Well, ask your doctor if aspirin is right for you. It may be … especially since we also know it protects the hearts of men, and most likely the hearts of women (we’re waiting on more research on that one.)

Either way, ask your doc.

Final note: if you do take aspirin, it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for screening. Colonoscopies, for most, begin at age 50, and then every 10 years afterwards.

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I rate this study an ” A ” for Aspirin.