ASPIRIN sales have rocketed by 500 per cent at a Bolton shop since scientists revealed it could reduce the risk of cancer.

New research found that taking a daily dose of the drug reduces the likelihood of major cancers, mainly those effecting the digestive tract.

The findings, revealed at the end of last month, saw Bolton shoppers last week buy five times the normal quantity sold at the Superdrug store in Deansgate.

The study, published in the journal Annals of Oncology, covered more than 200 clinical trials and other studies investigating aspirin’s anti-cancer effects.

If everyone in the UK aged 50 to 64 took aspirin for 10 years, an estimated 130,357 cancer deaths could be avoided over two decades, the study found.

A further 9,473 fatal heart attacks would also be prevented, it said.

Leading Bolton GP Dr Stephen Liversedge welcomed the “interesting” findings but urged patients not to self-prescribe.

Dr Liversedge, clinical director for primary care at Bolton Clinical Commiss-ioning Group (CCG), said: “There have been a variety of studies of the use of aspirin in treating heart disease. “These have shown an unequivocal benefit for those patients in preventing recurrences.

“What is interesting is that, coincidentally, it has been observed that this group of patients seem to have less cancer compared with people who do not take aspirin.

“At present, however, we cannot be certain that we should recommend everyone takes aspirin to reduce their risk of cancer.

“Aspirin can have side effects and, as with any drug, we have to be certain that the benefits outweigh the risks in any situation.

“As a general rule, people should neither start, nor stop taking medication without first speaking to their GP who can advise on the best treatment for that individual.”

Lead researcher Professor Jack Cuzick, head of Queen Mary, University of London’s Centre for Cancer Prevention, stopped short of urging GPs to prescribe aspirin to healthy patients but added: “I think they should recommend it.”

Aimee Gladish, buyer at Superdrug, said: “Following the news reports, we have seen an increase in sales on aspirin.

“It is great to see our customers taking a pro-active approach to their healthcare, and our in-store pharmacists are on hand to help with any queries they may have.”