Contrary to popular belief, side effects of prescription drugs are not necessarily bad.

AARP The Magazine reports that while some drugs may come with negative consequences, others have ancillary “surprise” benefits that may promote general well-being, fortify the body’s protection against disease, and even aid future therapy.

Do your prescription drugs come with concealed health perks? Check out the list below and find out.

1. Flu shots help prevent heart disease and stroke

According to a recent study from the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, getting vaccinated for the flu could slash your risk of developing cardiovascular complications by a whopping 48 percent. Study co-author Jacob A. Udell theorizes that the shot "may block the inflammatory response our bodies mount to combat a flu infection, which protects arterial plaques from rupturing and causing a cardiac event."

2. Statins prescribed for high cholesterol may lead to more successful cancer treatment

A 2012 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that cancer patients taking statins regularly had a 15 percent lower risk of dying from the disease. By restricting cholesterol levels, statins may reduce the rate at which the cancer spreads.

 "A shortage of cholesterol may inhibit growth of rapidly dividing cancer cells," study co-author Stig E. Bojesen explained.

3. Taking metformin for diabetes can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer

A review of seven studies published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment found that women who had taken metformin for a period of three years reduced their risk of developing the deadly disease by one-fourth. Improved insulin response may be behind this surprising perk.

4. Levodopa, as well as other dopamine agonists used to treat Parkinson’s disease, may improve creativity

A recent study in Behavioral Neuroscience found that Parkinson’s patients treated with dopamine agonists maintained and occasionally improved their creative faculties.

“Despite the prominent loss of motor skills, artistic capacities remain preserved in Parkinson's disease (PD). Furthermore, artistic creativity may emerge in art-naïve PD patients treated with levodopa and dopamine agonists,” the researchers wrote.

5. Aspirin taken to prevent heart attacks could boost your odds of surviving colon and prostate cancer

Many adults use aspirin to fend off heart complications – however, most don’t know that the analgesic could slash their risk of dying from certain kinds of cancer. In one study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, a daily dose of aspirin was linked to a 57 percent lower risk of dying among men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Similarly, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that among patients diagnosed with certain types of colon cancer, aspirin was associated with improved clinical outcome. After three years, the mortality rate of aspirin users was 3 percent – 23 percentage points lower than that of non-aspirin users. 

Sources: “Aspirin Use, Tumor PIK3CA Mutation, and Colorectal-Cancer Survival.” Xiaoyun Liao, M.D., Ph.D., Paul Lochhead, M.B., Ch.B., Reiko Nishihara, Ph.D., Teppei Morikawa, M.D., Ph.D., Aya Kuchiba, Ph.D., Mai Yamauchi, Ph.D., Yu Imamura, M.D., Ph.D., Zhi Rong Qian, M.D., Ph.D., Yoshifumi Baba, M.D., Ph.D., Kaori Shima, D.D.S., Ph.D., Ruifang Sun, M.B., Katsuhiko Nosho, M.D., Ph.D., Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, M.D., M.P.H., Edward Giovannucci, M.D., M.P.H., Sc.D., Charles S. Fuchs, M.D., M.P.H., Andrew T. Chan, M.D., M.P.H., and Shuji Ogino, M.D., Ph.D. N Engl J Med 2012; 367:1596-1606October 25, 2012DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1207756
“Aspirin Use and the Risk of Prostate Cancer Mortality in Men Treated With Prostatectomy or Radiotherapy.” Kevin S. Choe, Janet E. Cowan, June M. Chan, Peter R. Carroll, Anthony V. D'Amico, and Stanley L. Liauw. JCO JCO.2011.41.0308; published online on August 27, 2012
“The awakening of artistic creativity and Parkinson's disease.” Inzelberg, Rivka.Behavioral Neuroscience, Vol 127(2), Apr 2013, 256-261. doi: 10.1037/a0031052. Special Section: Non-Motor Dysfunctions in Parkinson's Disease.
"Metformin and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis and critical literature review." Col NF, Ochs L, Springmann V, Aragaki AK, Chlebowski RT.Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012 Oct;135(3):639-46. doi: 10.1007/s10549-012-2170-x. Epub 2012 Jul 31
"Statin Use and Reduced Cancer-Related Mortality." Sune F. Nielsen, Ph.D., Børge G. Nordestgaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., and Stig E. Bojesen, M.D., Ph.D., D.M.Sc. N Engl J Med 2012; 367:1792-1802November 8, 2012DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1201735