is reason to be grateful for this simple “wonder drug,” discovered in the
mid-19th century by Friedrich Bayer and his partner, Johann
Friedrich Weskott, in Barmen
(today a part of Wuppertal),
Germany—a modification of salicylic
acid or salicin,
which is actually a folk remedy
found in the bark
of the willow plant.
keep aspirin around. We take it for headaches, to relieve pain, as a deterrent
to heart attack and stroke. Now, a new light illuminates the potential
value of this humble drug. Studies have shown the possible efficacy of
aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs acting to reduce the
risk of dying from cancer. It is suggested that these drugs inhibit the
accumulation of somatic genome abnormalities, also known as SGA’s, that result
in uncontrolled cancer cell growth. It appears that aspirin acts to slow the
speed of mutation.
to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology, men being treated for prostate cancer who were taking
aspirin regularly for other medical conditions were likely to live longer than men
who were not taking aspirin.
2012 multi-center study was not a randomized controlled clinical trial of the
kind that is considered the gold standard, but it adds to an intriguing and
growing body of evidence suggesting that aspirin prevents the growth of tumor
cells in a variety of cancers, including prostate cancer. Especially in
high-risk disease for which there is no very good treatment. The risk of the
cancer returning, and of it spreading to the bones, was significantly lower, as
was the risk of dying from the disease.
to Peter Rothwell of Oxford University, one of the leading experts on aspirin
and cancer, “Aspirin reduces the likelihood that cancers will spread to distant
organs by about 40-50 percent.”
Kevin S. Choe, assistant professor of radiation at University of Texas
Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and lead author of the paper, said that
while it would be ideal to conduct a randomized study, doing so with prostate
cancer patients would be difficult because the natural progression of the
disease is so slow that you would have to follow men for many years. He added,
significantly, that little money is available for research on aspirin because
it is cheap and easily available!
of the problems with aspirin therapy is you have to be patient and consistent,
as most studies have found that it only becomes effective in 2-3 years. Also
there is a risk-versus-benefit equation due to aspirin’s gastric and bleeding
effects. However, cancer survivors concerned about recurrence, and those being
treated for cancer worried about metastases should discuss an aspirin regimen
with their doctor.