It is not yet a panacea for all ills, but it is getting close. Yesterday, researchers announced the first proof that aspirin can cut the risk of a range of cancers by up to 50 per cent.
It is already taken by millions to protect against heart attacks and strokes and has an established role in preventing diabetes, dementia, pregnancy complications and pain. Scientists stopped short of recommending it be added to the water supply but declared it was "the most amazing drug".
The latest positive findings on cancer had shifted the balance in favour of mass medication of the population, but it was still too soon to recommend everyone take it, they said.