Friday, April 22, 2016

Is aspirin a solution for cancer?

Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and one of the most well-known drugs in the world. It relieves several kinds of pain, and alleviates fever. Nowadays, millions of people in the world regularly take aspirin or other NSAIDs.

This popular drug is suspected to have an effect to expand the life in patients with cancer, according to Professor Peter Elwood. Taking a low dose of aspirin ma reduce the likelihood of the death by 15-20 per cent.

Independent: Cancer patients may have more chance of survival if they take a low dose of aspirin, study finds

In the article describing the study, the researchers conducted a systematic review of literature about the effect of aspirin on patients with cancers. As a result, five randomized controlled trials and several observational studies were identified. According to the result of a meta-analysis, aspirin was likely to reduce the mortality rate for colorectal cancer. Regarding breast cancer and prostate cancer, the influence of aspirin on mortality was not significant.

PLoS One: Aspirin in the Treatment of Cancer: Reductions in Metastatic Spread and in Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses of Published Studies

Aspirin has serious side effects. Bleeding tendency should be paid the most attention. Approximately 2-3% of patients taking aspirin regularly will suffer from a gastric ulcer in a year. According to the authors, additional prescription of aspirin will not raise the risk of bleeding in patients with cancer.

This evidence suggests the usefulness of aspirin besides its original purpose, anti-inflammation effect at least in some patients with cancer. Aspirin is also said to have a protective effect for Alzheimer’s disease. Because it is a very cheap drug, it will bring an innovative change in clinical practice if these effects are proven. We have not recommended patients to take aspirin for a long time so far. However, if the effects override the risk, continuous taking would be encouraged.

In recent years, some conventional drugs are reassessed in terms of their effectiveness. They were deemed to be inferior to newly developed drugs. But, some of the historical drugs were found to have unidentified effects. Not only from the economical point of view, but also for a better outcome of the treatment, we have to choose the best drug for each patient.

My past entry: Metformin may be a panacea, true?

My past entry: Amiodarone against Ebola, what to do

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