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An aspirin a day keeps cancer away?

By Lee Euler / June 21, 2017

Daily, low-dose aspirin therapy has been long been recommended to reduce the risk of heart attack for some adults aged 50 or older who are at risk.

Studies are also showing that it can reduce the risk of developing certain kinds of cancer.

The recommendation comes from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a panel of government-appointed independent experts whose views influence how conventional medicine doctors treat their patients. The USPSTF recommends a daily aspirin regimen as part of a comprehensive plan to reduce cancer and heart disease risk.1

But how safe is aspirin therapy? Read on to discover the pros and cons of aspirin therapy for cancer prevention, whether or not it might be right for you, and a few alternative options.

Continued below. . .

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Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), an anti-inflammatory drug, has been in medicine cabinets around the world since 1899. It’s generally used to stop minor aches and pains… and now, cancer?

While it may be fine for the occasional headache or muscle aches, daily aspirin usage comes with some possible serious effects.

Colorectal cancer

Scientists and doctors have known of aspirin’s positive effect against colorectal cancer for decades, dating from a study that discovered a significantly lower rate of these cancers among aspirin users.2

However, it was not recommended for just anyone, but for those people who may be predisposed to colorectal cancer.

One study found that people who have Lynch syndrome, an inherited disorder that greatly increases the odds a person will develop certain kinds of cancer, had a 63% reduced risk of developing the disease when given 600 mg of aspirin daily.3

Elsewhere, an analysis of two long-running studies on the effects of aspirin on colorectal and gastrointestinal cancers found that regular aspirin users had an overall lower risk of these cancers compared to nonusers.

Researchers estimated that regular aspirin use could prevent 17% of colorectal cancers among those who had not undergone a lower endoscopy. Among those who were screened for cancer, a further 8.5% of cases could be prevented with regular aspirin use.4

Helps prevent breast cancer

Mutations in the PIK3CA gene contribute to a specific kind of breast cancer. A study published in the February 2017 issue of the journal Cancer Research found that aspirin decreased the viability of mutant PIK3CA breast cancer cells.

The researchers believe that aspirin fights these cancer cells in three ways:

  1. It activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK; an enzyme that regulates cell homeostasis)
  2. It inhibits mTORC1 signaling, which stops the cancer cells from spreading
  3. It induces autophagy or “self-eating,” which is the body’s way of clearing out damaged and potentially cancerous cells.5

But a daily aspirin has substantial risks

As aspirin is an NSAID, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, and all drugs in this class can cause GI-tract problems.

While taking aspirin daily has shown positive results, aspirin also causes gastritis (inflammation and erosion of the stomach lining), gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers in as many as seven out of ten people who take it regularly. These conditions can be severe enough to cause death in some cases.6

A study published in 2011 followed 87,680 women for 24 years and found that those who took aspirin daily had a greater incidence of gastrointestinal bleeding than non-users. This study concluded that the bleeding was related to the dose rather than length of daily aspirin use.7

Aspirin, even at doses as low as 10 mg, can reduce gastric mucosal prostaglandin levels and cause significant gastric mucosal damage.

Prostaglandin keeps stomach acid low and the protective mucus high. This stomach mucus is essential to maintaining the health of the organ. When it diminishes the stomach acid inflames the lining of the stomach and can cause ulcers and bleeding.8

There isn’t a consistent or clear way to tell who is at risk for aspirin-induced stomach bleeding and who is “safe” from it. Before you consider aspirin therapy, discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor.

Other anti-inflammatory options with fewer risks

Instead of aspirin, positive lifestyle choices can go a long way toward reducing your risk of developing cancer, with few (if any) adverse side effects. These include regular exercise, good sleep and managing stress.

In addition to that, try any of these anti-inflammatory nutrients. . .

  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA): This antioxidant can reduce inflammation as well as insulin resistance. Studies also show it’s helpful in preventing obesity-related cancers.9 Foods rich in ALA include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, organ meat (kidney, liver or hearts from organic beef or chicken), tomatoes, beets and carrots. It’s widely available as a supplement.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in fish and fish oil supplements, these nutrients are very popular for reducing inflammation, protecting your heart and reducing the risk of cancer. The two especially beneficial types of omega-3 fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Quality supplements are a great way to add these acids to your diet, as well as eating wild-caught fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines; walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds.
  • Cardamom: This Indian spice has been shown to help fight a range of conditions, including digestive disorders, muscle spasms and headaches. It even exhibits chemopreventive properties against colon cancer cells.10 Chai tea and some black teas are spiced with cardamom, as well as some curry dishes.
  • Ginger contains two beneficial components, gingerol and zingerone, that help reduce inflammation. Studies show that ginger can reduce the expression of COX-1 inflammatory enzyme and reduce pain associated with arthritis.11 Ginger is a long-time favorite natural medicine for gastro-intestinal problems.
  • Turmeric, a popular spice, has long been used as an anti-inflammatory agent. It’s also widely available in supplement form. For more information on the cancer-fighting properties of curcumin, check out Issue #684.
  • Resveratrol, found in grape, grape seed extract, blueberries, red wine and peanuts. Also available in supplements, this antioxidant reduces inflammatory markers.12
  • Spirulina, a type of algae, can be purchased as a powder and added to smoothies, or taken as a capsule or tablet. Studies show it can, among its many benefits, reduce inflammation and pain.13

(Side note: to discover an anti-inflammatory “super cocktail” that contains curcumin, resveratrol and spirulina, see Issue #549.)

As you can see, aspirin therapy can be one tool in your anti-cancer toolbox, but it’s not without its risk and possible deadly side effects.

A safer route would be to include the above-mentioned anti-inflammatory foods and supplements in your diet and create a “chemopreventive” lifestyle.

Best regards,

Lee Euler,
Publisher

References:
1 Aspirin and Cancer Prevention: What the Research Really Shows.
2 Aspirin: A new old anticancer drug.
3 Long-term effect of aspirin on cancer risk in carriers of hereditary colorectal cancer: An analysis from the CAPP2 randomised controlled trial.
4 The Population Impact of Long-term Use of Aspirin and Risk of Cancer.
5 Aspirin Suppresses Growth in PI3K-Mutant Breast Cancer by Activating AMPK and Inhibiting mTORC1 Signaling.
6 Aspirin-induced gastritis and gastrointestinal bleeding.
7 Long Term Use of Aspirin and the Risk of Gastrointestinal Bleeding.
8 Clinical features of gastroduodenal injury associated with long-term low-dose aspirin therapy.
9 Chemopreventive Effects of Alpha Lipoic Acid on Obesity-Related Cancers.
10 Identification of Novel Anti-inflammatory Agents from Ayurvedic Medicine for Prevention of Chronic Diseases.
11 The use of ginger (Zingiber officinale) for the treatment of pain: a systematic review of clinical trials.
12 Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Resveratrol in Patients with Ulcerative Colitis: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-controlled Pilot Study.
13 Anti-inflammatory and antihyperalgesic activity of c-phycocyanin.
About the author

Lee Euler

Hi I'm Lee Euler, I’ve spent over a decade investigating every possible way a person can beat cancer. In fact, our commitment to defeating cancer has made us the world’s #1 publisher of information about Alternative Cancer Treatments -- with over 20 books and 700 newsletters on the subject. If you haven't heard about all your cancer options, or if you want to make sure you don’t miss even one answer to this terrible disease, then join our newsletter. When you do, I'll keep you informed each week about the hundreds of alternative cancer treatments that people are using to cure cancer all over the world.

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