Monday, May 08, 2017

Is there anything aspirin can't do?

Scientists have discovered another possible use for aspirin: stopping the spread of cancer cells in the body after an initial tumor has already formed. The research is still developing, but the findings hint that the drug could one day form the basis for a powerful addition to current cancer therapies.

Now you just can't start scarfing aspiring, because in some people it's dangerous. So with that precaution:
During the past century researchers demonstrated that aspirin inhibits the production of certain hormonelike substances called prostaglandins. By turning down the prostaglandin spigot, aspirin prevents thousands of heart attacks every year and probably stops a significant number of tumors from forming in the first place.
Recently, investigators have started to elucidate another way that aspirin works—one that interferes with the ability of cancer cells to spread, or metastasize, through the body.
Elisabeth Battinelli, a hematologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, has shown that cells called platelets, which are better known for their ability to trigger blood clots, also have an important part in allowing tumor cells to spread.

When Battinelli and her team fed aspirin to certain strains of mice and then injected them with malignant cells, the investigators discovered that the platelets did not shield breakaway cancer cells from the immune system or produce the necessary growth factors that allow cancer cells to grow and divide in a new location. Thus, aspirin appears to fight cancer in two ways: its anti-inflammatory action prevents some tumors from forming, and its antiplatelet properties interfere with some cancer cells' ability to spread.
If you're doctor has prescribed a low-dose aspirin every day for your heart health you may be getting an unexpected benefit.

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