As pancreatic cancer remains among the deadliest forms of this disease, researchers are working hard to identify ways people at risk may lower their chances of developing the condition. Several studies have now shed light on the potential a very simple, over-the-counter medication may offer in providing some protection against this form of cancer. Aspirin, as it turns out, may do more than help people prevent heart attacks and treat headaches. New research indicates that this common substance can lower the risk of pancreatic cancer by nearly 50 percent.

One of the more recent studies to delve into the potential aspirin holds in preventing pancreatic cancer involved hundreds of patients who were diagnosed with the disease. These people were asked about their aspirin use and were matched with control patients. Researchers ultimately found that people who defined themselves as regular users of aspirin had significantly lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Analysis of the data showed pancreatic cancer risk dropped for each cumulative year of aspirin use. Researchers also took into account nearly two dozen other studies on the topic that also showed potential benefits of routine aspirin use.

Pancreatic cancer is estimated to strike more than 53,000 Americans each year. The disease claims about 41,000 lives. With a five-year survival rate of less than 10 percent, the disease is considered one of the deadliest forms of cancer.

Pancreatic cancer has a number of risk factors that people can control and some they cannot. Risks include obesity, tobacco use, chronic pancreatitis, family history, genetic links and diabetes, among others. People who are at risk are strongly urged to speak with their healthcare providers about prevention. Introducing low-dose aspirin use into the daily routine may be beneficial, studies show, but it is strongly recommended that medical advice be sought before doing so. Long-term aspirin use may also pose its own risks.