Anyone looking for an excuse to get through the morning staff meeting by popping an aspirin and downing a lot of coffee has reason to cheer this week. The evidence in favor of such a routine flowed freely, first at the closely watched annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), where Harvard scientists presented data showing that long-term aspirin use decreased the risk of gastrointestinal cancers. A day later Swedish researchers announced results of a study, published in an AACR journal, showing that breast cancer survivors who drank at least two cups of coffee a day greatly lowered their risk of recurrence. Other recently released studies suggest coffee prevents liver tumors, endometrial cancer and melanoma.
This is hardly the first time scientists have touted the potential life-extending attributes of two of the world’s favorite legal drugs—aspirin and caffeine. The benefits of coffee and aspirin have been well documented in cardiovascular disease. In fact, the data in favor of aspirin have prompted an estimated 40 million Americans to take one a day to prevent heart attacks. And Harvard researchers discovered that people who regularly drink coffee have a lower risk of dying from heart disease than those who don’t. They found the evidence so compelling that the website for the university’s school of public health declares coffee to be “one of the good, healthy beverage choices.”