The research study was performed by the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School. In all, 79,439 women were followed every two years from 1980 through to 2004. The study simply asked women if they were consuming aspirin on a regular basis and how many tablets they typically used per week.
The women selected for the study had no history or sign of cancer or cardiovascular disease when the study began. The study found that 45,305 women did not use aspirin, while 29,132 took low to moderate dosages and 5,002 took more than 14 aspirins per week.
By the end of the study, 9,477 of the women had passed away. 1,991 of these women died from heart disease and 4,469 died from cancer. The study found that the women reporting aspirin use had a 25% lower risk of death when compared to those that never used aspirin.
The study found a stronger correlation between using aspirin and a reduction in cardiovascular disease. In fact, those that used aspirin on a regular basis demonstrated a 38% lower risk. They also had a lower risk for cancer, with a 12% lower risk.
“Use of aspirin for one to five years was associated with significant reductions in cardiovascular mortality.” - Study published by the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical SchoolThe exact link between aspirin and the reduction in death is not fully understood, though researchers believe aspirin has a positive effect on pathogenic pathways including insulin resistance, inflammation, oxidative stress, and cyclo-oxygenase enzyme activity.
Whether or not women should take aspirin was not determined through this research because the women were not prescribed regular dosages of aspirin versus placebo medication. Nonetheless, the study indicates that further research into the effects of aspirin is warranted.