Studies conducted over the years have shown numerous benefits of using aspirin, a compound with potent
anti-inflammatory properties. If aspirin were discovered today, it would probably be available only through prescription, and cost us 10-40 fold more than we pay for it today.
Additionally, in the area of cancer, laboratory studies suggest that certain anti-inflammatory drugs may prevent certain types of cancers. However, human clinical trials on the efficacy of aspirin for reducing the risk of cancer, and its ability to make a difference in the course of cancer, are uncertain.
Dr. Jean Tang and her colleagues at Stanford University School of Medicine, CA. recently published a study examining how daily intake of aspirin effects the risk of getting melanoma, a deadly type of skin cancer. A study of 60,000 Caucasian women [lighter-skinned individuals are at greater risk of getting skin cancer] ran for an average of 12 years and involved women 50 years to 79 years of age.
Women who took aspirin twice weekly had on average, a 21 %reduction in their risk of getting melanoma compared to those who did not use aspirin regularly. Women who had taken aspirin twice weekly for at least 5 years had a 30% lower chance of getting melanoma. Other pain relievers such as acetaminophen (found in Tylenol) made no difference in melanoma rates.
Dr. Tang said, “There’s a lot of excitement about this because aspirin has already been shown to have protective effects on cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer in women”… “This is one more piece of the prevention puzzle.” Dr. Tang feels that the ability of aspirin to limit inflammation may contribute to its association in reducing the risk of cancer. In future studies, Dr. Tang is planning to see whether a similar association is holds for men.
Inflammation is necessary for healing and recovery, but run-away inflammation may be the main contributor to disease. Cancer is a two-way street. Inflammation feeds cancer and cancer feeds inflammation. We need enough of an immune response to stop the growth of cancer cells, but not so much that it “feeds” the growth of mutant cells.
Immune homeostasis, immune balance, is the key to excellent health. Control inappropriately high inflammatory responses of the immune system, and change the course of disease both for the present and in the future.