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Daily dose of aspirin could both prevent and treat cancer

March 22nd, 2012
by Tania

New studies published by The Lancet have added fresh evidence for the role of aspirin in preventing and even treating cancer.

Three new studies have recently signalled the drug's ability to battle cancer, which adds to mounting evidence that has been accumulated by researchers in the past. However, experts have revealed that there isn't enough proof for it to be used as an actual preventative or an actual treatment, and overuse of the drug can lead to several side effects.

Professor Peter Rothwell, from Oxford University, and colleagues, who carried out the latest work, already have a solid basis of evidence to suggest that aspirin could hold cancer treatments. Their most prominent research links the drug with bowel cancer, showing that although the drug has preventative characteristics, it would require people to take the drug for about ten years to get any protection.

The researchers have now expanded on these studies, finding that the protective effect could occur much sooner, with some experts suggesting that they could work between three to five years in. Their new research is based on analysis of data from 51 trials involving more than 77,000 patients.

The results showed that aspirin doesn't only reduce the risk of developing cancers, but could also stop cancers spreading around the body. But when the team examined how many of the participants developed and died from cancer, they found this was also related to aspirin use.

Low doses of the drug on a daily basis appeared to cut down the total cases of cancer by a quarter in only three years. The death rate was reduced by 15 per cent within five years, and if the patients stayed on the drug longer than that, it went down to 37 per cent.

Prof Peter Johnson, of Cancer Research UK, advised caution over taking drugs without medical consultation, but added that the developments were exciting. He said: "We now need some definitive advice from the government as to whether aspirin should be recommended more widely."

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Posted in Chemical Science, Industry News, Life Science

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