"This gives pause and a reason for older people and their physician to think carefully about the decision whether to take low-dose aspirin regularly or not", Hadley says.
However the medicine was linked with an increased risk of serious bleeding, in line with previous findings.
These initial findings from the ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial, partially supported by the National Institutes of Health, were published online on September 16, 2018 in three papers in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Professor McNeil said aspirin remains a relatively safe medication but more research was needed to investigate the longer-term benefits and risks of its daily use.
While aspirin has been a commonly used drug among the elderly, it has been taken with the risk of bleeding, which is known as a side-effect of taking the medication.
"[The study] has provided this answer".
"An aspirin-a-day did not prolong life free of disability, or significantly reduce the risk of a first heart attack or stroke among participants with little difference between the placebo and aspirin groups", according to the study, led by a team of researchers from Monash University, Melbourne. "But in Hong Kong, the traditional teaching is to recommend aspirin to prevent recurrence of heart attack or stroke", Choi said, adding he believed aspirin did not have to be given to healthy people. Clinically significant bleeding-hemorrhagic stroke, bleeding in the brain, gastrointestinal hemorrhages or hemorrhages at other sites that required transfusion or hospitalization-occurred in 361 people (3.8 percent) on aspirin and in 265 (2.7 percent) taking the placebo.
After almost five years, the researchers did not observe a difference between the two groups when it came to "disability-free survival".
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Rates of cardiovascular events, such as coronary heart disease, non-fatal heart attacks and strokes, were similar across both groups, the study found.
In fact, the group taking aspirin had a slightly increased risk of death - 5.9 percent died compared with 5.2 percent taking a placebo. "So, this is a welcomed study, but everybody who is now taking aspirin should obviously see their GP before making changes to their regime", he told Sky News.
The cancer finding surprised researchers because in other studies, aspirin protected against death from cancer.
This study serves as a contradiction to previous belief that aspirin can decrease risk of death and risk of developing cardiovascular conditions.
There is evidence that aspirin can help to prevent heart attacks and strokes in people with heart problems, and doctors had hoped that the same would be true for the general population.
So yes, don't pop aspirin if you are healthy.
"That's an issue in the elderly when people's blood vessels are a bit more fragile", Professor McNeil said. Professor Christina Mitchell, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, said Monash University was at the forefront of healthcare improvement underpinned by the quality and scale of our research capabilities in this space.
These were the findings of a seven-year study into the benefits and risks of a daily, low dose of aspirin in people over 70 years.