1. Heart disease
Annual U.S. cases: 735,000 (heart attack)
Heart disease killed more than 614,000 Americans in 2014, making it the leading cause of death in the United States. A heart attack, one of the most serious complications of heart disease, can be prevented with aspirin. Because heart attacks can be caused by blood clots that restrict blood flow to the heart, aspirin’s anti-platelet blood-thinning properties can greatly reduce the risk of a heart attack in at-risk individuals. At-risk individuals often take a low daily dose of the drug, and those suffering from a heart attack can limit damage by taking the drug as first-aid.
2. Colorectal cancer
Annual U.S. cases: 136,119
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force announced in April 2016 that aspirin can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in certain individuals. The multi-decade studies demonstrated that among those with a specific hereditary condition that puts them at greater risk of colorectal cancer those who took aspirin reduced their risk by 63% compared to those taking a placebo. The benefits also extend to those at average risk of colorectal cancer. Some researchers believe we are only beginning to fully understand aspirin’s potential role in fighting cancer.
Annual U.S. cases: 54.4 million (arthritis)
Aspirin’s anti-inflammatory properties make it an effective treatment for a number of common ailments. While inflammation is the body’s way of protecting itself from infection from foreign viruses and bacteria. However, it can also damage the body’s tissues and cause pain. Inflammation without a real virus or bacteria often manifests as one or more forms of arthritis, which affects millions of Americans. Aspirin can reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and muscle aches.
Annual U.S. cases: <200,000
Preeclampsia is a rare condition that can occur during pregnancy. Preeclampsia can cause damage to the kidneys, and if left untreated can be fatal to both the mother and the fetus. Preeclampsia is often characterized by increased blood pressure about 20 weeks or more into pregnancy, even in women with relatively normal blood pressure. A low-dose aspirin regimen is often used as a preventative measure for at-risk women.