“I think aspirin is the best anticancer drug today. I think everyone over 50 should take aspirin. It’s the cheapest thing on the planet and very effective… I take one pill of 25 mg a day.” So said Professor Mel Greaves of the Institute of Cancer Research in London at a recent conference where he was presenting a paper on the complexities of cancer.
Aspirin is a classic anti-inflammatory drug. It inhibits the production of an enzyme involved in driving inflammation. (It also inhibits the action of a closely related enzyme, potentially causing the side-effect of gastric bleeding.)
There is research in animals and people suggesting that long-term consumption of aspirin can reduce the risk of developing various cancers, or of certain cancers coming back. Whether or not it should be taken routinely as a prophylactic is hotly debated, partly because of the side-effects. But, in October 2015, a new trial got underway in the UK: it is the world’s biggest clinical trial to date to investigate whether aspirin really can prevent bowel, breast, prostate, stomach and oesophageal cancer returning in people who have been successfully treated. If successful, it will determine whether for this group, at least, the benefits outweigh the risks.
This article originally appeared on Mosaic. You can read the rest of the story here.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery