A team from the University of Hong Kong's Faculty of Medicine reviewed data from 2831 stomach cancer patients and found that long-term use of aspirin or steroid-free anti-inflammatory drugs could reduce the risk of stomach cancer, or gastric cancer, by 22%. 

The study was released on Wednesday.

The results have been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

But researcher Dr Benjamin Wong said it was too early to forecast whether aspirin could be used to treat cancer.

"The results we have at this stage is for prevention only and we do not want to cause confusion that this could also be for treatment purposes," said Wong.

He added this was merely a "first step" to prove the principle that aspirin could reduce the risk of cancer and  has stressed more tests are needed to be done, including a clinical trial, to prove the results are accurate.

Globally, stomach cancer is the fourth most common cancer with an estimated 876,300 new sufferers recorded in 2000.

It is also the second leading cause of cancer deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.