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Aspirin and Cancer

November 2, 2006

Don’t go popping pills yet, but aspirin has some promising anti-cancer properties.


Aspirin’s anti-cancer potential. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If you were diagnosed with cancer, your doctor wouldn’t tell you to take two aspirin and call back in the morning. But evidence is mounting that aspirin can actually fight tumors. The latest comes from a lab study led by Helen Arthur, a specialist in molecular cardiovascular medicine at the University of Newcastle in England. Her team found that aspirin dramatically inhibits the formation of new blood vessels.

HELEN ARTHUR (University of Newcastle):
And the reason that’s important is that tumors need new blood vessels to grow. So without a blood supply, a tumor cannot grow larger than a pea.

She cautions that aspirin can also cause bleeding ulcers, and says it’s much too early to recommend it as a cancer therapy. But understanding exactly how aspirin blocks blood vessel growth could teach scientists new ways to contain or even prevent tumors. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.