What? Aspirin for Cancer?

A bottle of brand coated tablets.
A bottle of Bayer® coated aspirin tablets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We grew up in a world where aspirin is a common household medical first aid that takes away fever and reduces pain.  It is recommended by many doctors in low, daily doses for patients who are at risk of having heart attacks or strokes.  We have also heard of florists and other people who uses soluble aspirin tablet, dissolved in water vases or containers, in order to prolong the freshness of cut flowers.  There are others who also found good use of aspirin on their fungal-infected soil; by sprinkling a mixture of dissolved aspirin tablet in a liter of water on the affected soil.

Further research will yield more information with regards to other uses for aspirin, a crystalline compound which goes by the chemical name acetyl salicylic acid, but otherwise became popularly known as aspirin, which was originally the trade name registered by Bayer in 1899. Classified as an analgesic, anti-pyretic and anti-inflammatory drug, it continues to be a cheap, over-the-counter drug to combat fever and pain, as well as taken as a pill to prevent heart attacks and strokes.  However, some people who are allergic to naproxen or ibuprofen are advised never to take aspirin  as there had been cases when aspirin did more harm than good to sick persons; such that an intense debate had risen, for and against its use, after bleeding in the stomach was detected in a number of patients who took aspirin regularly.

However, despite isolated cases on allergic reactions to aspirin and bleeding in the stomach, it is still widely used around the world; though now less patronized due to the present availability of paracetamols (i.e., acetaminophen or Tylenol®) and other pain-relieving drugs to alleviate fevers and body aches.  But still, it cannot be discounted that aspirin has been here since 1899 and has remained within our reach.  It has continued to be a regular over-the-counter drug globally.

It is just so astounding to know that all of a sudden aspirin — an age-old cure for various ailments and worries — would suddenly make it to the front page as a possible cure for cancer as well as a preventive measure; owing to numerous studies that were conducted at Oxford University and other centers.  It was reported that a small daily dose of aspirin, 75mg, reduced death rates in cancer-inflicted patients by at least one-fifth.  The research yielded results whereby aspirin is now believed as having a preventive effect due to an enzyme called COX-2 which it inhibits.  This enzyme promotes cell proliferation in colorectal tumors.  In short, aspirin may help in preventing cancer or slow down its growth.

Led by Peter Rothwell of Oxford University in Britain the new findings from their recent studies showed that aspirin reduced the risk of cancer spreading to other organs of the body (otherwise known as metastesis which most often is what kills people suffering from cancer)—–by more or less 40%-50%.  Furthermore, although there had been previous concerns regarding bleeding from the stomach,  some experts go as far as saying that their findings show that aspirin’s benefits outweighs the risk of stomach bleeding.

Since no drug has ever been proven to prevent further spread of cancer, especially on the crucial stages, the latest findings on aspirin as a probable cure and preventive drug should be pursued with vigor and given much support.  The American Cancer Society, however, disclosed that it would be premature at this point to put everyone on daily aspirin, so precautionary measures on the aspects of good health practices should remain to be everyone’s concern.

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