New cancer-fighting drug is not so new

Aspirin, one of the cheapest pain relievers on the market, may have found a new use. It has been known for years that taking one aspirin a day can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Recent studies suggest that this common painkiller may have been a long overlooked weapon in the fight against cancer.

http://www.whydoes.org/why-does-old-aspirin-smell-like-vinegar

Another use for the everyday pain medication. Image from Whydoes.org.

Two new studies show that aspirin could become a vital part of any cancer treatment regimen. One of the findings from this study is that aspirin in low doses is able to help prevent the spread of tumors. The two studies can be found in The Lancet and The Lancet Oncology. Peter Rothwell, a professor at the University of Oxford, lead the two studies. The findings were based on 51 trials involving about 78,000 people who were already taking aspirin to prevent heart attacks and stroke.

One of the research studies found that after 3 years, there was a marked decrease in the chances of participants developing cancer when compared to the control group — a decrease of 25% that participants would develop cancer. After 5 years the chances of dying from cancer for those who have it dropped 37%.

Another of the research studies found that over 6.5 years, the daily use of aspirin significantly decreased in the chances of developing cancers in the colon, lung and prostate family by 46%. The study also found that daily use could lower the chance of developing metastatic cancers by 36%.

These findings sparked a debate on the value of taking aspirin daily. While there are a number of positives to taking aspirin, such as lowered blood pressure, decreased chance of heart attack and stroke, along with the most recent findings, there is a very serious side effect to taking aspirin on a daily basis. In some people, the constant use of aspirin can lead to the development of stomach ulcers and internal bleeding, which can be fatal. However, new studies are suggesting the serious side effects such as fatal internal bleeding may diminish with prolonged use of aspirin.

The active component in aspirin, salicin, has been around for decades; Native Americans used it in willow bark tea to manage the aches caused by the cold and flu. Hippocrates discussed the pain-reducing effects of salicin. While this research may be provocative and most certainly will need to be reviewed heavily before any physician recommends aspirin as a potential prevention for cancer, one thing is certain: aspirin has been with us for a long time and will continue to be with us for just as long.