Amazing Cancer Fighter. Aspirin?

Yes, indeed.  We've known for a while that for some reason, taking aspirin daily may help prevent heart disease and certain cancers. But no one knew why until now.

A new study has found that "aspirin slows the accumulation of DNA mutations in abnormal cells in at least one pre-cancerous condition," according to a story at newswise.com.  Aspirin apparently lowers "mutation rates."

Cancer is caused by the mutating of genes, and up till now, no one has been able to figure out why some genes do, and some don't.  That's the answer to the hundred-million-dollar question.  What turns these cell changes on and off?  There's the cure for cancer.

Something I found interesting recently was that inflammation damages DNA and often, particularly with chronic diseases, that's what leads to cancer.  Inflammation, a response of the immune system, in recent years has been recognized as a hallmark of cancer.

Medicalnewstoday.com puts it better than I can.  "In most normal situations, damage induced to DNA during an inflammatory response is repaired by the cell's internal error correction system -- but if this is not functioning properly, there is a higher chance that mutation will occur, increasing the risk of cancer."

So why does aspirin work?  One of its main functions is to reduce inflammation.  In the new study, participants with a precancerous condition took aspirin daily over six to 19 years, and while they were taking the drug, mutations developed 10 times more slowly than when they stopped taking it.

Mutations often concern doctors because, in cancer, cells accumulate mutations much more rapidly than in  normal tissue, and this gathering of cell changes is ultimately what allows tumor cells to grow out of control.

After being treated for breast cancer nine years ago, I was found, two years later, to have other mutations, diagnosed as hyperplasia, or abnormal cells.  Hyperplasia means cells growing rapidly, which can often indicate a precancerous condition.  In my case, my surgeon decided to go further and a biopsy revealed that the cells were, indeed, malignant. But, happily, that's not always the case.

So, to take aspirin or not.  Clearly, it's not the answer for everything.  It may cause stroke and induce or increase gastrointestinal bleeding.  But in the right circumstances, it's the right thing to do.  Now I may just have to do something with the bottle of baby aspirin on my kitchen counter rather than just let it sit there.

 



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