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Aspirin May Halt Tumor Growth


Aspirin may be a useful weapon in the fight against cancer, according to a new study. Lead researcher Helen Arthur with the Institute of Human Genetics at Newcastle University in England says she and her colleagues explored a biological process called angiogenesis that stimulates blood vessels to grow. "It's important, for example, in a healing wound. If you cut yourself, you need new vessels to grow to help to repair the tissue."

Arthur and her research team found that aspirin can block the formation of blood vessels that feed tumor growth. In test-tube studies researchers analyzed the effects of various doses of aspirin on cells that line the inside of human blood vessels. "We found at a very low dose of aspirin, similar to the kinds of doses that are used therapeutically, it had a strong inhibitory effect on the way cells forms tubes [vessels] in the angiogenesis assay."

Arthur cautions patients not to take aspirin to prevent or cure cancer. She says aspirin in large doses over an extended period of time is toxic and can lead to severe stomach bleeding and death. "We need to develop safe delivery methods for getting aspirin in."

Arthur says doing so could lead to the production of new cancer fighting drugs.

The aspirin study is published in the October issue of the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.