Sunday, July 1, 2012

How Aspirin can Prevent Cancer Cell Growth

A - normal cell division, B - cancer cell divi...
A - normal cell division, B - cancer cell division; 1 - apoptosis; 2 - damaged cell. From the National Cancer Institute. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin can significantly reduce the risk of development of various cancers, but the way it prevents is not clear.

Researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Sheffield have now identified how long-term and low doses use of NSAIDs may help to stave off cancer cells of some essential factors like prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) on which their early growth depends.

Previous studies have shown that cancer cells are less likely to divide, if the white blood cells can be prevented from contacting the precursor cancer cells, suggesting that white blood cells (WBC) have the ability to promote disease by providing some kind of growth signal.

They found out that though the normal role of WBC is to fight off infections, may supply the cancer cells with essential survival factors; one of these key factors is prostaglandin, PGE2. The cancer cells cannot grow, if the immune cells are genetically modified, not to produce PGE2, but they begin growing again, if the researchers feed them PGE2.

The results show that at least in part, taking drugs like aspirin, which are generally taken for cardiovascular problems, prevent the development of cancer by starving the cancer cells of PGE2 source of early growth support.
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