By Vivian Richardson, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent
ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- You can use it to prevent a heart attack, reduce a fever, and ... fight cancer? New research reveals one of the oldest drugs around, aspirin, may lead to new weapons in the battle against cancer.
Researchers from the University of Newcastle in England discovered high doses of aspirin reduce the formation of new blood vessels, something tumors need to grow.
The study provides an important link between inflammation and cancer and opens up the possibility of new cancer drugs, according to Gerald Weissmann, M.D., editor-in-chief of The Federation of America Societies for Experimental Biology Journal. Dr. Weissmann was not involved in the study, but said it's an important area of study. "It provides a terrific link and a new observation, and they don't come that often," he told Ivanhoe.
During the study, researchers wanted to know how aspirin works when it reduces inflammation and the growth of blood vessels. Aspirin given at high levels, four grams to six grams a day, has a completely different affect than aspirin given at the normal doses -- 80 milligrams to 1.5 grams maximum. They thought maybe it would work the way COX-2 inhibitors work, by blocking a special enzyme that causes the pain and swelling in conditions like arthritis. Instead, the researchers discovered it works by stopping NfkappaB, a molecule that signals to the body when and where to grow new blood vessels. Without new blood vessels tumors cannot grow, and the painful swelling and joint destruction of arthritis is reduced.
Dr. Weissmann cautions consumers should not start taking high doses of aspirin to prevent or treat cancer. "Were you to give these doses for long periods of time, people would probably bleed to death and die of ulcers," he said.
This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.
SOURCE: Ivanhoe interview with Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-chief of The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal