Got Cancer? Take An Aspirin!
A couple years back I ran a newsletter piece under the same jokey title. Maybe you thought I was kidding? No, really, the science is good.
Remarkable as it may seem, humble aspirin has a strong effect against cancer cells. This is in part due to the fact that cancer is part of the picture caused by our “inflammatory fire”; partly because it has a specific cytotoxic effect—see below.
A study published in 2011 showed taking aspirin (salicylic acid) significantly reduced the risk of colorectal cancer. 434 subjects taking just a placebo had an incidence of 30 cancers; 427 subjects taking aspirin daily for at least 2 years had an incidence of only 18 cancers.
That’s a remarkable 40% reduction. No fancy expensive drugs can do that, or even come close!
The trouble is, as you know, that aspirin has its problems: it causes intestinal bleeding and ulceration.
But now a “new aspirin” gets round that problem.
Here goes the science: the gut lining protects itself from damage (“Fire in the Belly”) by secreting nitric oxide (NO) and hydrogen sulfide (SH, stinking rotten eggs gas!). So now Khosrow Kashfi at The City College of New York has developed “NOSH aspirin”, a variant that releases its own NO and SH, protecting the gut to some degree from the ravages of aspirin.
Great—but does it still knock out cancer? Yup!
Kashfi’s team tested their NOSH aspirin against 11 human cell lines, including colon, breast, lung, prostate and the deadly pancreas cancer.
It was not only as good as aspirin alone: it was 100,000 more potent! With colon cancer, for example, it caused cancer cells to stop dividing, to wither and die.
Nobody knows yet why NOSH aspirin should have such potent anti-cancer properties. But the good news is that it suggests a far lower—and therefore non-toxic dose of aspirin—would suffice, thus preserving the gut living.
It’s very non-toxic in any case. In mice transplanted with human colon cancer, they were fed daily doses sufficient to reduce the tumor size by 85%, yet there was no sign of gut damage.
We could be looking at a human trial within a year. This is exciting. Who would have thought it; humble aspirin?
1. [SOURCE: below]
Then, incredibly, in 2012 a new study published which also showed that aspirin protects against cancer.
We are not talking chemo-strength, or 100% protection, understand, but there was a measurable effect.
The study was prompted because an analysis pooling results from existing randomized trials of daily aspirin (for heart and circulation benefits) found an estimated 37% reduction in cancer mortality among those using aspirin for 5 years or more. 2
Against this, however, you need to bear in mind that two very large randomized trials of aspirin taken every other day found no effect on overall cancer mortality.
So for this study, researchers pooled data from 100,139 predominantly elderly participants in the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort who reported using aspirin on questionnaires.
The study was published online August 10, 2012, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The participants, who did not have cancer at the start of the study, were followed for up to 11 years.
The researchers found that daily aspirin use was associated with an estimated 16% lower overall risk for cancer mortality, both among people who reported taking aspirin daily for at least 5 years and among those who reported shorter-term daily use.
So something is clearly going on.
Part of the result was driven by a decrease of about 40% for cancers of the gastrointestinal tract (such as esophageal, stomach, and colorectal cancer) and a decrease of about 12% for cancers outside the gastrointestinal tract.
How Safe, Really?
The well-known dangers of taking aspirin haven’t gone away. Even low-dose aspirin can substantially increase the risk of serious gastrointestinal bleeding.
And one other caution: this study was organized by the American Cancer Society, who are about as trustworthy with data as rats are in a corn store. However, I do not impugn Dr. Jacobs MD, who led the research.
In an editorial accompanying the published study, John A. Baron, MD, from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, wrote that:
“The drug clearly reduces the incidence and mortality from luminal gastrointestinal cancers, and it may similarly affect other cancers. This is exciting: simply taking a pill can prevent cancer incidence and cancer death.”
Dr. Jacobs has disclosed no relevant financial relationships. Dr. Baron reports being a consultant to Bayer who manufacture aspirin, and holding a use patent for the chemopreventative use of aspirin, currently not licensed.
Hmmm. No wonder Jacobs likes the idea of a pill (his pill) against cancer.
3. [SOURCE: below]
Really Ramming It Home!
Then, just for good measure, another study arrived on my desk from just a week ago; it too showed clearly that low-dose aspirin had a protective effect against deadly pancreatic cancer, adding to the increasing body of evidence about this surprise property of aspirin.
Basically, the longer a person takes low-dose aspirin, the lower the risk for pancreatic cancer, according to a trial published online June 26, 2014, in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
The researchers assessed aspirin use in 362 patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the state of Connecticut from 2005 to 2009 and in a random sample of 690 cancer-free control subjects from the general population.
All study participants were interviewed in person to determine when they started using aspirin, the number of years they used aspirin, the type of aspirin they used and the dose.
For every year of aspirin use, the risk for pancreatic cancer decreased by 6% with low-dose aspirin and by 2% with regular-dose aspirin.
Low-dose aspirin was defined as 75 to 325 mg per day. Regular-dose aspirin, usually taken for pain or anti-inflammatory purposes, was defined as doses higher than 325 mg taken every 4 to 6 hours.
The longer the patient had been taking the aspirin, the better the protection. But here’s something that caught my eye…
discontinuation of aspirin use in the 2 years prior to the study enrollment was associated with a 3-fold increased risk for pancreatic cancer, compared with continued use.*
It might be dangerous to start it, if it’s dangerous to stop it!
Hot Off the Press: My New Book
It’s odd that aspirin has come up again at this time: I’ve just finished an amazing and SURPRISE new book for you all. It’s entitled The Ultimate Guide To Natural Pain Relief. It will be on sale next week (I’ll let you know when).
It starts from aspirin and morphine (both natural plant substances, did you know?) and works outwards from there. Lots of safe and effective alternatives, from SCENAR look-alikes to lasers; from Ayrurvedic gems therapy to multimedia sensory stimulation devices. It’s a feast of knowledge!
I also tell you what should be in your medicine cabinet.
Listen: Pain is the King of symptoms. When pain comes calling, you want to be ready.
Here’s to a pain-free life!
1. [SOURCE: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ml300002m]
2. [Lancet. 2012;379:1602–1612]
3. [J Natl Cancer Inst. Published online August 10, 2012]
*SOURCE: Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 23(7); 1–10. ©2014 AACR