"Other than smoking cessation and avoidance, there are no known methods for reducing the risk of developing emphysema," said researcher Carrie Aaron from Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, US.

"In our large general population sample, we found that regular aspirin use (three or more days per week) was associated with a slower progression of percent emphysema on computed tomography (CT) scans over 10 years," Aaron said.

Of the 4,471 individuals involved in the study, 21 percent (921) used aspirin regularly.

When compared to those who did not use aspirin, regular aspirin use was associated with a significantly slower progression of percent emphysema over 10 years.

The results did not change even after adjustment for a number of potential confounding factors, including age, sex, race/ethnicity, cigarettes/day, pack-years, and hypertension.

"The findings might suggest that regular aspirin use may slow the progression of subclinical emphysema, perhaps through effects on platelet activation or inflammation," Aaron said.

The findings were presented at the 2015 American Thoracic Society International Conference at Denver in the US.

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