We have heard that an aspirin daily can help heart conditions, and now thanks to a study in Berlin, we are now discovering two aspirins a day can help people who are genetically susceptible to colon cancer.
John Burn of the Institute of Human Genetics at Newcastle University in Britain believes that his study may have found a simple way of controlling stems cells that make tumors grow. “We believe that aspirin may have an effect on the survival of aberrant (faulty) stem cells in the colon,” Burn said.
The European researchers tracked more than 1,000 people with Lynch syndrome, a genetic mutation that makes them vulnerable to cancers in the colon, rectum, stomach, brain, liver, womb and elsewhere. The syndrome accounts for about 5 percent of all colon cancers. Half of the people in the study were given 600 milligrams or two aspirin daily, while the other half got placebo pills for about four years.
In the group that received aspirin, six people developed colon cancer, versus 16 in the group that got placebos. “We are delighted,” said John Burn of Newcastle University in Britain, who led the study. “All the more so because we stopped giving the aspirin after four years, yet the effect is continuing,” he said in a statement. This discovery may mean aspirin could help prevent colon cancer.
This doesn’t mean that everyone should start taking aspirin if they’re worried about bowel cancer,” said Henry Snowcroft of Cancer Research United Kingdom. “Aspirin can cause significant side effects if not used as directed by a doctor,” Snowcroft said.
Based on this research, where patients did not benefit until several years after taking aspirin, Burn thinks the drug may also affect cancer stem cells. He hypothesized aspirin might speed up the process by which cells destroy themselves if they pick up “genetic spelling mistakes” that could be cancerous. That could result in a protective effect against cancer ever developing.
Other scientists were not convinced that stem cells were involved. “There’s something weird going on here that’s outside of what we normally see,” Neugut said. “Reducing cancer is a wonderful thing, but there is something else going on here that we don’t understand.”
According to the National Cancer Institute Colorectal cancer It is the fourth-most-common cancer in the U.S. Burn’s research team plans to study whether a lower dose of aspirin will also ward off colon cancer. What is important is studies are beginning to show that aspirin could help prevent colon cancer.
Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
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