For decades, an aspirin per day had been recommended by doctors to prevent strokes and heart attacks, while newer evidence shows that it may also play a protective role against prostate, gastrointestinal, esophagus and colon cancers. But a recent study adds breast cancer to the list.
According to the new study, a daily dose of aspirin may hinder the growth of tumors in breast cancer patients. Dr. Sushanta Banerjee, one of the study authors and lead researcher at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Kansas City said that aspirin seem to inhibit cancer stem cell’s reproduction.
Dr. Banerjee explained that the tumor shrinks after the first diagnosis, but the cancer can relapse at any time in the coming years because it deposits residual stem cells in the patient’s body.
Moreover, those cells are extremely resistant to chemo therapies and other cancer medications. So, they start to hibernate and wait for the proper moment to wake up, reproduce and help tumors grow again.
Researchers tested their theory that aspirin may rein breast cancer spread on both mice and incubated cells. They used about 95 samples of incubated cells in their experiments and applied different doses of aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid, on them.
Scientists reported that aspirin exposure dramatically increased the death rate of cancer cells, while blocking growth in those that didn’t die off.
During the study’s second stage, researchers used 20 mice diagnosed with breast cancer tumors at advanced stage. About a couple of weeks, the mice received a daily dose of aspirin equivalent to that of a human (75 mg), which is a very low dose.
At the end of the trial, mice that were given aspirin had smaller tumors by up to 47 percent.
The research team also tested the drug’s efficacy in preventing cancer. They gave some mice aspirin several days before injecting them with cancer cells. After two weeks, the mice had a considerably less tumor growth than those that didn’t receive preventive treatment.
“We found aspirin caused these residual cancer cells to lose their self-renewal properties. Basically, they couldn’t grow or reproduce,”
noted Dr. Banerjee.
He also said that the results of the study suggested that aspirin could be used in cancer patients after chemotherapy to block a future relapse and preventively in healthy patients but with a high risk of breast cancer.
However, researchers recommend people should go and have a talk with their GP before taking a daily dose of aspirin. They explained that the drug has a minor side-effect– it thins the blood which may boost the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.
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