Drug known to Hippocrates in 420BC helps cancer sufferers

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Benefit of taking aspirin

RESEARCH by the Leiden University Medical Centre was presented to the European Cancer Congress in Vienna on September 28, detailing long research that suggests cancer sufferers taking aspirin survive much longer than those who don´t.

The report found that 75 per cent of patients taking a daily dose were still alive five years after being diagnosed with bowel, stomach, pancreatic and throat cancer whilst the survival rate for those not on aspirin was just 42 per cent, so aspirin almost doubles the survival chances of many cancer sufferers.

These findings back up numerous studies showing aspirin helps keep prostate, breast and lung cancer sufferers alive and costiing just a few cents a day, it is thought to work by reducing the number of blood clots that tumours can make use of.

The drug is also prescribed by doctors to prevent heart attacks and stops particles called platelets in the blood clumping together to form clots. A number of larger studies are taking place around the world testing the benefits of aspirin on cancer.

Professor Nadir Arber, who is the congress’s spokesman, said: “Aspirin may serve as the magic bullet because it can target and prevent ischaemic heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, the three major health catastrophes in the third millennium.”

By way of warning, however, Dr Áine McCarthy, of Cancer Research UK, warned that there were some potential dangers. She said: “Even though aspirin is widely available, it can have serious side effects like internal bleeding, so cancer patients shouldn’t take it without talking to their doctor first.”

In the previous week American researchers announced they were recruiting 3,000 women to test whether aspirin stops breast cancer returning.

A new drug, formally acetylsalicylic acid, was named aspirin by Bayer AG after the original botanical name for meadowsweet in the late 1890s, although the ‘Father of Medicine’ Hippocrates had written about the properties of willow bark and the shrub spiraea, which contain salicylic acid for soothing headaches and general pain, over 2,000 years earlier.


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