Low-Dose Aspirin May Prevent Cancer

The impact aspirin has on blood platelets  is just as effective in high doses as it is  at low ones.  The impact aspirin has on blood platelets  is just as effective in high doses as it is  at low ones.

Cancer is a leading cause of morbidity and death worldwide, and its prevalence is predicted to increase in the next few years. Cancer prevention strategies include making healthy lifestyle choices and getting tested if at risk. New research suggests that a small dose of aspirin may help prevent the formation of cancer cells and explains how.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is one of the leading causes of death across the globe, accounting for 8.2 million deaths in 2012.

In terms of prevention, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend making healthy lifestyle and dietary choices, such as avoiding tobacco and alcohol, as well as staying physically active and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.

New research reinforces the idea that low-dose aspirin intake may also help  prevent cancer and inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells.

The suggestion that a small dose of aspirin may help to prevent cancer is not new. In September 2015, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended the daily use of a small dose of aspirin to help prevent cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer.

However, the new research also explains the process by which a low dose of aspirin may indeed inhibit cancer cell proliferation and metastasis.

The study was conducted by scientists from Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in collaboration with Oregon State University (OSU), and the results were published in the journal AJP-Cell Physiology, reported.

“The benefit of aspirin may be due to its effect on blood cells called platelets, rather than acting directly on tumor cells,” says senior author Owen McCarty, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at OHSU.

Platelets are tiny blood cells that help a healthy body to form clots, in order to stop the bleeding when necessary.

It seems that our blood platelets also increase the levels of a certain protein that may support cancer cells and help them to spread. This “oncoprotein” is called c-MYC.

The biological function of c-MYC is to regulate the expression of over 15% of all the genes of the human body. The c-MYC regulator controls the life-and-death cycle of cells, the synthesis of proteins, and the cells’ metabolism.

However, research has shown that in human cancers, this oncogene is overexpressed.

Researchers explained that aspirin reduces the ability of blood platelets to raise levels of the c-MYC oncoprotein.  Almost a third of colon cancer patients and 42% of patients with pancreatic cancer had overexpression of the c-MYC oncoprotein.

The impact aspirin has on blood platelets is just as effective in high doses as it is at low ones. As a result, clinicians can weigh up the risks and benefits of aspirin intake, as well as reduce the risk of bleeding - which is a common side effect of ingesting too much aspirin.


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