Aspirin has long been seen as an anti-coagulent and heart-friendly medicine but now studies show that a daily dose of aspirin may curb the growth of breast cancer or tumour.
Indian-origin scientist Dr Sushanta Banerjee from the Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the team found that aspirin is able to create a non-conducive conditions around cancer stem cells making them not to reproduce further and effectively stemming their growth.
Whenever cancer treatment intervenes, its stem cells, or residual cells survive chemotherapy and go dormant but once the conditions in the body are conducive, they reappear and begin to reproduce. But aspirin could alter the molecular signature in breast cancer cells enough that they would not spread, Banerjee said based on success in his incubated cells and mouse models.
For the experiment, Banerjee and his team have put breast cancer cells in 96 separate plates and then incubated. Just over half the cultures were exposed to differing doses of acetylsalicylic acid, or commonly known as aspirin. It dramatically increased the rate of cell death in the test. Even those cells which escaped death were unable to grow.
In his second part, Banerjee proceeded with a study involving 20 mice with aggressive tumours. For 15 days, half the mice were given the human equivalent of 75 milligrammes of aspirin per day, which is considered a low dose and the findings showed that the tumours weighed more and the mice that received aspirin had tumours that were, on average, 47 per cent smaller.
When they an additional group of mice aspirin for 10 days before exposing them to cancer cells for 15 days, the mice had significantly less cancerous growth than the control group. “We found aspirin caused these residual cancer cells to lose their self-renewal properties as they couldn’t grow or reproduce, ” said Banerjee.
“We could give aspirin after chemotherapy to prevent relapse and keep the pressure on, which we saw was effective in both the laboratory and the mouse model, and we could use it preventatively,” he said. However, taking aspirin daily on self-prescription is equllay dangerous as it leads to thin blood and result in gastro-intestinal bleeding, warn experts.