Posted on May 06, 2016, 6 a.m.
The commonly used pain reliever appears to affect cancer stem cells.
Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is widely used to relieve pain and reduce fever. Sushanta Banerjee, from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Missouri, USA), and colleagues completed cell culture and lab animal studies that suggest that daily aspirin may block the growth of breast cancer and other cancers, by affecting cancer stem cells. For the cell test, breast cancer cells were placed in 96 separate plates and then incubated. Just over half the cultures were exposed to differing doses of aspirin. The team observed that exposure to aspirin dramatically increased the rate of cell death in the test. For those cells that did not die off, many were left unable to grow. The second part of his study involved studying 20 mice with aggressive tumors. For 15 days, half the mice were given the human equivalent of 75 milligrams of aspirin per day. At the end of the study period, the tumors were weighed. Mice that received aspirin had tumors that were, on average, 47% smaller. To determine if aspirin could also prevent cancer, the researchers gave an additional group of mice aspirin for 10 days before exposing them to cancer cells. After 15 days, those mice had significantly less cancerous growth than the control group. The study authors write that: "[aspirin] has a therapeutic or preventive potential by attacking possible target such as TGF-[beta] in breast carcinogenesis.”
Maity G, De A, Das A, Banerjee S, SarBut kar S, Banerjee SK. “Aspirin blocks growth of breast tumor cells and tumor-initiating cells and induces reprogramming factors of mesenchymal to epithelial transition.” I Lab Invest. 2015 Jul;95(7):702-17.