Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have shed light on why taking aspirin can help prevent bowel cancer.
It was already known that the regular use of aspirin reduces a person’s risk of developing colon cancer, but it was not known exactly how this process worked.
It has won a Nobel Prize and was chosen as one of the five essential inventions bequeathed by the 20th century. Every second that passes, aspirin is consumed by 2,500 people around the world. Among many other properties, it also seems that this analgesic reduces the risk of getting colon cancer.
To understand how he does it, the researchers focused on a structure found inside cells called the nucleolus.
It is known that the activation of the nucleolus promotes the formation of tumors and dysfunction has also been linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The team of the Cancer Center UK Edinburgh Center of the University tested the effects of aspirin on cells grown in the laboratory and in the biopsies of tumors taken from patients with colon cancer.
They discovered that aspirin blocks a key molecule called TIF-IA, which is essential for the nucleolus to function. Not all patients with colon cancer respond to aspirin, but researchers say their findings could help identify those who are most likely to benefit from it.
All in all, aspirin has side effects that include internal bleeding and can cause certain types of stroke. Long-term use is not recommended. The researchers warn that what their study suggests is that they can pave the way for the development of new, safer therapies that mimic the effects of aspirin.
The research, published in Nucleic Acids Research, has been funded by the Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.