Can Daily Low-Dose Aspirin Improve Cancer Survival?
Researchers recently looked at 118 published observational studies in patients who had eighteen different cancers and “found aspirin to be associated with a reduction of about 20% in cancer deaths.” The results of their review, which were published in July 2021, suggest that low-dose aspirin is not only associated with living longer but also that, “(T)he benefit appears not to be restricted to one or a few cancers.”
Additionally, researchers looked at the potential for adverse effects, notably bleeding. “The relative safety of aspirin taking was examined in the studies and the corresponding author of every paper was written to asking for additional information on bleeding,” according to the report. While the frequency of bleeding increased among patients taking aspirin, “fatal bleeding was rare and no author reported a significant excess in fatal bleeds associated with aspirin.”
How might aspirin extend survival in cancer patients?
Global Cures’ Scientific Advisor, Eugene Brown, Pharm.D., explains what mechanisms could contribute to the increased survivability. “Aspirin inhibits the formation of prostaglandins by blocking the activity of two enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2, both of which generate inflammatory molecules.” For a patient with cancer, Brown continues, “Reduction of inflammation at the site of the tumor can be beneficial since it decreases some of the cellular pathways that keep the tumor cells growing.”
Brown suggests another mechanism as well. In healthy individuals, he explains, platelets are, “an essential component of the blood and function to stop bleeding at the site of an injured blood vessel.” To do this, they clump at the site of an injury and release factors to enhance stickiness. But, in a patient with cancer, platelets may contribute to tumor growth and progression. Additionally, there is evidence that platelets can interact with tumor cells and help them “hide” from immune cells that would attack them. “Daily treatment with low-dose aspirin,” Brown explains, “leads to a virtually complete inhibition of platelet COX-1 activity, which in turn inhibits platelet function and the release of platelet-derived tumor-growth promoting factors.”
Should You Start Taking Low-Dose Aspirin for Your Cancer?
The research team was careful to add that, “(A)spirin is not a possible alternative to any other treatment.”Rather, it should be seen as an adjunct therapy only. In other words, it should complement, and not replace, your existing therapeutic regimen.
Whether or not you should incorporate low-dose aspirin into your cancer therapy depends on a number of factors and is not a decision any cancer patient should make without the consultation of his or her oncology team. Consider providing your team with the information in this study as you explore your therapy options.
As always, this article provides general information and is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider for medical guidance.