An over-the-counter medication activates cancer-protective genes

When it comes to the daily benefits of aspirin, there is a lot of conflicting information.

Many people with conditions like coronary artery disease take daily aspirin to ward off heart attack and stroke. It’s also been suggested for reduction of the brain plaques that cause Alzheimer’s disease.

On the other hand, daily aspirin use has been linked with a significantly increased risk of bleeding, including hemorrhagic stroke and gastrointestinal hemorrhages. It also has been found to almost double the risk of melanoma in men.

Now another study has weighed in on the debate — and it seems to come down on the positive side of daily aspirin use, at least for one very serious threat…

Aspirin’s role in colorectal cancer prevention

Colorectal cancer, also known as bowel or colon cancer, is the third most common form of cancer worldwide, with around 1.9 million newly diagnosed cases and 900,000 deaths every year. It used to be considered an older person’s disease, but rates in people under 50 have been on the rise in recent years.

There is a need for more preventives for this deadly cancer. And aspirin could fit the bill…

Previous studies have shown that aspirin reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. One study found it reduced cancer of the large bowel by an impressive 50 percent. It also has been found to inhibit the progression of cancer in the colon.

More recent research has identified the signaling pathway by which aspirin can inhibit these cancers…

 A team from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) in Germany conducted a laboratory study to gain clarity on the molecular mechanisms behind this effect.

According to the results, aspirin prompts the production of two tumor-suppressive microRNA molecules (miRNAs) called miR-34a and miR-34b/c. To do this, aspirin binds to and activates AMPK, an anti-aging enzyme that acts as a “master switch” to determine how our bodies process energy. This in turn alters the transcription factor NRF2, which then migrates into the cell nucleus and activates the expression of the miR-34 genes.

In addition, aspirin allows the activation to succeed by suppressing the oncogene product c-MYC, which otherwise would inhibit NRF2.

To sum all this up, aspirin activates genes that help protect against colorectal cancer.

The results show that miR-34 genes are necessary for aspirin to work to inhibit colorectal cancer cells. Aspirin failed to prevent migration, invasion and metastasis in cancer cells that were miR-34-deficient. It was already known that the transcription factor p53 induces the miR-34 genes, which mediate its effects.

“Our results show, however, that activation of the miR-34 genes by aspirin takes place independently of the p53 signaling pathway,” says Heiko Hermeking, a professor of experimental and molecular pathology at LMU. “This is important because the p53-encoding gene is the most commonly inactivated tumor suppressor gene in colorectal cancer. In most other kinds of cancer, moreover, p53 is inactivated by mutations or viruses in the majority of cases. Aspirin could therefore be employed therapeutically in such cases in the future.”

How to best take aspirin

A lot more research needs to be done before aspirin’s role in colorectal cancer prevention can be confirmed. But if you’re at high risk for colorectal cancer because of family history or other factors, you may be considering adding a daily dose of aspirin to your regime. But is there a safe way to do it?

As is the case with any medication, the first thing to do is to speak with your doctor about it. They will be able to help you decide whether the potential preventive benefits are worth the risks and about existing conditions that need to be considered.

If your doctor does recommend daily aspirin, you’ll want to take a low dose (roughly 75 mg, or the dose in baby aspirin). Make sure to take it with food to help avoid stomach upset. Or you can take it in tablets that dissolve in a drink of water or tablets with a special enteric coating to help protect your stomach.

Of course, you’ll want to do everything you can to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer in the first place. It’s important to maintain a healthy weight, stay active and eat the right foods — particularly resistant starch. This type of starch has been shown to reduce the odds of a range of cancers — including colorectal cancer — by more than 60 percent.

Editor’s note: Discover how to live a cancer prevention lifestyle — using foods, vitamins, minerals and herbs — as well as little-known therapies allowed in other countries but denied to you by American mainstream medicine. Click here to discover Surviving Cancer! A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Causes, Treatments and Big Business Behind Medicine’s Most Frightening Diagnosis!


Bowel cancer: Aspirin activates protective genes — ScienceDaily

Salicylate induces AMPK and inhibits c-MYC to activate a NRF2/ARE/miR-34a/b/c cascade resulting in suppression of colorectal cancer metastasis — Cell Death & Disease

About low-dose aspirin — NHS

Carolyn Gretton

By Carolyn Gretton

Carolyn Gretton is a freelance writer based in New Haven, CT who specializes in all aspects of health and wellness and is passionate about discovering the latest health breakthroughs and sharing them with others. She has worked with a wide range of companies in the alternative health space and has written for online and print publications like Dow Jones Newswires and the Philadelphia Inquirer.