Aspirin reduces the risk of cancer
A new study led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, could change the approach†of prevention and treatment of cancer. In the article published in the journal†PLoS†Genetics, they explain the mechanism by which aspirin has anti-cancer effect. According to the study, aspirin slows the accumulation of DNA mutations in the abnormal cells and thus decreases the risk of†premalignant†conditions.
Carlo†Maley, PhD, a member of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, explained that aspirin and NSAIDs, which are drugs widely available and cost-effective, have cancer prevention effect by decreasing the rate of mutation.†Maley, along with†gastroenterologist†and geneticist Brian Reid, MD, PhD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, investigated 13 patients with Barrett’s esophagus ( which is considered a†premalignant†lesions) that were followed for 6 to 19 years. Of these, some were beginning to take aspirin daily for several years and then stopped and others started to take aspirin for the first time. The aim of the study was to see which is the mutation rate in these patients †at different times. The researchers found that patients taking aspirin had accumulated new mutations on average 10 times slower than patients who had not taken aspirin for years.
Maley†points out that this is the first study that measures the genome-wide mutation rates of the pre-malignant tissue from patients for more than a decade and the first to assess how aspirin affects these mutation rates.†We already know that cancer arises through successive accumulation of mutations in certain tissues more quickly than others and that the same tumor express several types of mutations. The accumulation of mutations within cells lead†to tumor growth and the presence of several types of mutations can cause resistance to treatment.
Now researchers want to test a hypothesis that explains the results of the study: that aspirin may decrease the risk of cancer by reducing inflammation, as it is a known fact that inflammation is associated with cancer.†Maley†said that less inflammation could lead to a lower risk of cancer. In the study, in almost in all cases except one, the mutation rate was low even in periods when patients were not taking aspirin. These results confirm that the few cases of Barrett’s esophagus lead to cancer††although Barrett’s esophagus is considered a†premalignant†lesion. Researchers found that in the patient who later on developed cancer of the esophagus,†a population of cellular “clones” with a great number of mutations†appeared just before he started taking aspirin.