New study points to aspirin as the magic cancer drug

A new study is suggesting that aspirin might reduce the risk of cancer and possibly increase the survival rate of patients who are already battling it.

The research was led by Dr. Martine Frouws of Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands and is providing continuing evidence that strongly points toward aspirin being useful in prevention and treatment of cancer. Dr. Frouws and his team set out in their study to try to figure out if in fact aspirin has an influence on the survival of cancer patients, specifically those with tumors in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, according to Medical News Today.

The study is the first of its kind in that it simultaneously assessed the survival data by different GI locations such as the rectum, colon and esophagus.

The study itself included 13,715 patients who all had already received a GI cancer diagnosis between 1998 and 2011. They were all followed for an average of 48.6 months. The breakdown of the participants was that 42.8 percent had colon cancer, 25.4 percent had rectal cancer and 10.2 percent had cancer of the esophagus.

In order to figure out how aspirin use after a GI cancer diagnosis impacted the overall health and survival of the patients, the team analyzed the patient data with drug dispensing information from the PHARMO Institute in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

“In this study we analyzed each separate prescription per patient, and therefore we were able to achieve a more exact estimate of the effect of aspirin on cancer survival,” notes Dr. Frouws.

In the study, 30.5 percent of the patients used aspirin prior to their GI diagnosis, 8.3 percent used aspirin after and 61.1 percent didn’t use it at all. An overall of 28 percent of the patients survived for at least five years. But they discovered that compared to patients that used aspirin before their diagnosis with hose that didn’t use it at all, patients who used aspirin after their diagnosis were found to be twice as likely to survive.

Although the exact reason for aspirin being an anticancer mechanism is not clear, the researchers noted that it could be down to its antiplatelet properties. Since circulating tumor cells use platelets to protect themselves from the immune system and aspirin blocks the function of platelets, their theory leaves them on good grounds for continuing research.

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