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Health effects of aspirin: Where do we stand?

An aspirin a day, keeps the doctor away. Or does it? Aside from being a potent painkiller to help with that numbing headache or aching pain in your back, doctors today routinely prescribe a daily regimen of aspirin to help prevent heart attack and stroke. And a number of studies also indicate that they may also be able to decrease your likelihood of certain types of cancer.

But not everyone should be taking the little while pills. Talk to your doctor first about taking it daily. Doctors agree that a low dose — as little as 75 milligrams, which is less than a baby aspirin — can help those patients who have already had (or are at high risk for) a heart attack or stroke. For those with a low risk of heart disease, potential side effects such as internal bleeding and stomach ulcers may outweigh the preventative benefits. While the benefits of aspirin seem strong, always consult your doctor before starting daily usage.