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The world’s biggest clinical trial is for one of the cheapest drugs

New Reasearch Shows That Aspirin May Cut Breast Cancer RiskNew Reasearch Shows That Aspirin May Cut Breast Cancer Risk
Aspirin products sit on the shelf at a Walgreens drug store May 26, 2004 in Chicago, Illinois.Photograph by Scott Olson — Getty Images

In the United Kingdom, the world’s largest clinical trial, involving about 11,000 people who have early-stage cancer, has just begun, according to the BBC. The goal? Finding out if a daily dose of aspirin, one of the world’s most common pharmaceuticals, can prevent a recurrence of cancer.

If the trial determines that aspirin does keep cancer at bay, the finding would be a game-changer for cancer treatment, scientists say. As cancer drug prices rise ever-higher, extending the longevity of those facing the disease is an increasingly expensive endeavor. Aspirin, meanwhile, is available at drugstores for a few dollars.

“There’s been some interesting research suggesting that aspirin could delay or stop early stage cancers coming back, but there’s been no randomised trial to give clear proof,”said Professor Ruth Langley, chief investigator for the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit at University College London, where the trial is based, “This trial aims to answer this question once and for all.”

Aspirin was initially developed as a painkiller, but scientists have also discovered its ability to reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

Over the course of the study, some patients will take an aspirin dose every day for five years. One-third of the patients will take a placebo pill, and the other two equal groups will take high and low doses of aspirin each day. The trial will last up to twelve years, so don’t expect any definitive answers soon.