Taking Aspirin on a regular basis may boost the survival odds of some people diagnosed with colorectal cancer, according to U.S. research.
Previous studies had suggested that Aspirin, also known by the generic name of acetylsalicylic acid, may reduce the risks of developing cancer of the colon and rectum. But doctors weren't sure what happens when Aspirin is given to patients who are already being treated for the disease.
The new findings are based on an analysis of data from two large continuing observational trials - the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
The results, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicate that Aspirin provides the greatest benefit to patients who have tumours that overproduce COX-2, an enzyme that fuels cancer growth.
Aspirin apparently keeps the tumour in check by inhibiting the activity of this enzyme.
The researchers, led by Andrew Chan of Massachusetts General Hospital, believe other medications that inhibit COX-2 - such as the painkiller Celebrex - may also help control the disease. They plan to conduct clinical trials to see which drug works best and has the least side effects.