Newswise — Aspirin has been a staple in American medicine cabinets for almost 120 years to fight pain. But the effective component of aspirin, salicylic acid, has been used since the ancient Egyptians who used bark from the willow tree — which contained salicylic acid — to ease aches and reduce fever. The Greek physician Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, wrote of using willow bark to relieve pain.

In the 20th century, aspirin was found to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and many doctors began recommending that their patients take a daily baby aspirin. Further studies have found aspirin may help prevent other diseases, including Alzheimer's.

But of the up to 1,000 clinical trials conducted each year, many are finding that aspirin can slow or prevent one of mankind's deadliest diseases: cancer. While the mechanism is still debated, some experts say aspirin reduces the inflammation that drives cancer.

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