Thousands of people with a genetic condition should be given aspirin every day to slash their risk of colorectal cancer, health officials have ruled.
People with Lynch syndrome (LS) are born at an increased risk of the killer disease, with four out of five people eventually being diagnosed.
But a major study showed people could slash their odds of developing it by taking aspirin every day for two years, prompting the change in guidelines.
This is despite the NHS banning prescriptions for 'over-the-counter' remedies in a desperate attempt to save money last year.
Although branded a step in the right direction, charities have argued most people with LS are unaware they even have it.
Thousands of people with a common genetic condition should be given aspirin every day to slash their risk of colorectal cancer, NICE has ruled
Figures estimate around 200,000 people in the UK have LS - but better screening would 'save lives', experts say.
The condition, of which there are no other symptoms, can lead to cancer at a young age.
It is especially linked to the colorectal form - cancer of the colon, rectum or bowel, as well as endometrial, skin and brain.
LS accounts for approximately one in 30 of colorectal tumours in the UK, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
In its draft guidance on dishing out aspirin, the watchdog said the condition leads to more than 1,100 colorectal cancers every year.
Dr Paul Chrisp, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, admitted that there are risks associated with long-term aspirin use.
However, he said: 'The committee agreed that the benefits are likely to outweigh any potential harms.'
Up to ten per cent of people who take aspirin have have nose bleeds, bruise easier and bleed for longer. This can be dangerous if the bleeding occurs internally.
Bowel Cancer UK welcomed the guidance, saying it was 'extremely pleased' about the recommendation of aspirin for patients with LS.
However, the charity said 'it is crucial identification is addressed by putting guidance on Lynch syndrome testing into practice'.
Deborah Alsina MBE, its chief executive, said: 'Currently 95 per cent of people do not know that they have Lynch syndrome. This is unacceptable.'