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Aspirin's role in cancer mystery explained by scientists


Australian scientists have discovered how anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin prevent tumors from spreading.

The breakthrough by researchers at Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre paves the way for new treatments to halt cancer in its tracks.

While the benefits of non-steroid anti-inflammatories on cancer were known, the biological processes involved had never been fully understood.

Co-lead author Tara Karnezis said tumors secret proteins and compounds called growth factors, attracting blood and lymphatic vessels to their vicinity and allowing the cancer to flourish and spread. These growth factors also encourage lymphatic vessels -- or "supply lines" -- to widen, which enables the spread of cancer, she added.

"But a group of drugs reverse the widening of the supply line and make it hard for the tumor to spread -- at the end of the day that's what kills people," Karnezis said.

"This discovery unlocks a range of potentially powerful new therapies to target this pathway in lymphatic vessels, effectively tightening a tumor's supply lines and restricting the transport of cancer cells to the rest of the body."

While oncologists may include aspirin in patients' treatment, this discovery enabled the development of better and more efficient drugs, she said.

The research is published in the journal Cancer Cell.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/02/14/aspirins-role-in-cancer-mystery-explained-by-scientists/#ixzz1mNuhnu2D
Women who survive breast cancer always have to watch out for the possibility of the recurrence of the disease, but according to a recently-published study, those who took aspirin after completing their treatment may have a lower risk of that happening.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and indicated that survivors who used aspirin may be “half as likely to die or have their tumors spread around the body,” according to a feature on USA Today. Study author Michelle Holmes of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital said that aspirin’s role in the control of cancer is to fight against inflammation.
breast cancerThe feature mentioned that breast cancer cells produce more inflammatory chemicals when compared against normal breast cells. Results of laboratory tests revealed that aspirin prevented the further growth of breast tumor cells and kept them from invading other tissue.
The conclusions were derived from a long-running study that involved more than 4,000 nurses. Aside from breast cancer, another study involving colon cancer also indicated potential benefits from aspirin use.
Michelle Holmes clarified, however, that neither the breast nor colon cancer study proved that aspirin had the ability to keep cancer in check. Since the study only involved the tracking of patients and their development and noting which ones took aspirin, there is always the possibility that there may be other factors other than aspirin that controlled the patient’s tumors.
Holmes also clarified that despite this seemingly positive feedback regarding aspirin, breast cancer survivors should be cautious and consult their physicians before taking it. Aspirin at a low dose, though, is said to be taken by some 2 million breast cancer survivors in the US for the reduction of risk for heart attack.
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