Researched lower cancer risk through aspirin

Researched lower cancer risk through aspirin

Mechanism to reduce cancer risk deciphered by aspirin

Researchers at the University of Bern believe they have deciphered the mechanism that causes aspirin to lower cancer risk. It has been known for years that regular intake of acetylsalicylic acid can reduce the risk of developing tumors and has been proven by studies. How the drug reduces the risk of cancer has not been clarified to date. Swiss researchers now believe they have found that aspirin rejuvenates the markings in the genome that tell the cell which function, such as a skin or muscle cell, it should take on. However, the scientists strongly advise against taking the drug uncontrolled.

The cause of the cancer risk-lowering effect of aspirin could have been uncovered. It has been known since the 1990s that aspirin can reduce the risk of cancer if taken regularly. The exact mechanism of action of the agent was never fully elucidated. Researchers around the molecular geneticist Prof. Primo Schär from the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel and the gastrointestinal specialist PD Dr. Kaspar Truninger may have now deciphered a possible mechanism, as they report in the journal "Journal of the National Cancer Institute".

As part of their study, the researchers examined samples of the intestinal tissue from 546 healthy women over the age of 50. The subjects also had to make statements about their lifestyle regarding the intake of aspirin, the body mass index (BMI), the nicotine consumption and the use of hormone replacement therapies. The researchers then compared this information with the age-specific changes in the genetic markings, the so-called methyl groups of DNA.

Do not take aspirin regularly without medical advice to reduce the risk of cancer "The genetic makeup in each cell is similar to a library that is peppered with bookmarks," explains Schär. With the help of these bookmarks, the cell can differentiate between genes that should be read and those that are less important to them. In this way, she knew which specialized task as a skin, muscle or intestinal wall cell should be carried out. “But these markings are not stable, they change with age. If they change too much at certain points in the genome, a tumor can develop, ”says Schär.

As part of their study, the researchers showed that regular intake of aspirin slows down these age-related changes in genetic markings. Another result: smoking has the opposite effect by even accelerating the aging process. "Genes that play a role in the development of cancer are particularly affected," says Dr. Faiza Noreen, research assistant at the Department of Biomedicine and first author of the study.

Although the researchers have provided further evidence of the potential cancer-reducing effects of aspirin with their investigation, they do not recommend taking the drug uncontrolled. Those who regularly consume acetylsalicylic acid can provoke an increased risk of irritation of the mucous membranes, bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract and gastric ulcers. In the case of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease, the agent can even have a relapsing effect. (ag)

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