Aspirin may reduce cancer spread through its actions on platelets - preventing blood vessel growth
Low dose aspirin is known to reduce cancer rates, and the general theory was that it asserts this effect through its anti-inflammatory action. However, a new more specific theory has now been put forward by researchers in Texas.
Standing in the way of metastasis
One of the major actions of aspirin is its blocking of the enzyme cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1). This cuts the number of platelets circulating in the blood and blocks some inflammatory action - thinning the blood and causing increased bleeding risk if cut. This same action blocks clotting, which normally encourages new vessel formation following a wound. Curiously, cancer can make use of a similar mechanism in its growth pursuits; utilising platelets' ability to trigger new blood network growth.
"These results suggest that aspirin's chemopreventive effects may be due, in part, to the drug blocking the pro-neoplastic action of platelets"
Using normal aspirin and a special preparation of aspirin combined with phosphatidylcholine, researchers found that the phosphatidylcholine variety was especially potent at blocking the pro-cancerous effects of platelet activity. From this lipid-aspirin complex's success the research team hope to develop a new lipid based aspirin product to treat colorectal cancer and other types. Given that aspirin is cheap and readily available, it provides additional evidence for the value of a preventative medical strategy, involving repurposed drugs.
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