Aspirin, the little pill that packs a punch against heart disease and stroke, boasts another health claim: reducing your chances of having a cancer and of dying from a cancer if you get one. Another plus? It can help your skin look younger, longer, and fight acne to boot!
Aspirin is a blood-thinner by nature, so keeping your vessels clearer of clots puts you at a lower risk for heart attack and stroke. But a slew of recent analyses have looked at aspirin’s effects on several cancers. In one, University of Oxford researchers reported that the risk of getting cancer (and dying from cancer) of the breast (yours), ovaries (yours), prostate (probably his), esophagus, colon and rectum (both genders) and brain (fill in this one) dropped substantially—like 30 to 60 percent less—for those taking daily aspirin for three years or more. Aspirin’s protective effects held up for various kinds of cancer and kept them from spreading, too: breast, lung, brain, esophageal and colon cancer to name just a few.And never take hormone therapy or birth control pills without aspirin (See chapter 10 in “You: Staying Young” for a whole chapter of more on that).
There are two suspected ways it may help battle cancer. For one, aspirin hinders an enzyme that’d otherwise promote tumor growth. It also has a big inflammation-quelling component—and too much of this kind of irritation compromises cells, leaving them vulnerable to abnormal growth.
It’s this inflammation-fighting effect that helps aspirin slow aging—a huge favor for your complexion. Inflammation takes its toll on the skin in a variety of ways—including acne, rosacea, and visible signs of aging like wrinkles and sagging skin.
High levels of inflammation cause a faster rate of collagen breakdown, which can accelerate the aging process. Collagen helps give your skin structure, helping it to look full, smoother and elastic. When it breaks down, skin starts to sag, wrinkle, and look less vibrant.
Another aspirin plus? Fighting breakouts. The acetylsalicylic acid in aspirin is a close relative of salicylic acid, which is a dermatologist favorite to treat acne. Though the compounds aren’t quite the same, some people swear by aspirin masks to calm that big, red zit.
Simply make a paste of crushed aspirin, and spread it on your face to reduce inflammation, and remove oil and dead skin cells. If you’re not a candidate for daily oral aspirin, give this topical do-it-yourself beauty treatment a try!
Who should take a daily aspirin? Not everyone. But a major risk is GI upset and GI bleeding. You can minimize those by taking a half glass of warm water before and after your two baby aspirin’s a day (the dose we recommend you discuss with your doc). Now we hate to tell you to see your doc—but here you should. Only your doctor can help you decide if the benefits of daily aspirin will truly outweigh your risks, so consult with yours before adding aspirin to your daily routine.