Cancer, according to statistics, is the world’s leading causes of deaths in the global population. For instance, over 16 million people were affected by cancer during the year 2015 alone. Scientists and specialized doctors expect this number to increase to 24 million by the year 2035. Some believe that most cancer cases are from rich and developed countries, but the truth of the matter is that almost a staggering 57% of cancer cases occur in developing third world countries, while 47% cases happen in rich and developed countries.
There are yet any medicines to be discovered in the pharmaceutical world to completely cure a person of cancer or eradicate the disease entirely. Nonetheless, people who are diagnosed with cancer are given an aggressive combination of many treatments to stop the disease. Recently, there has been much debate regarding the role of aspirin in preventing chances of developing cancer.
But before we go into that, let us take a look at what causes cancer.
What are the causes of cancer?
It is still a matter of much debate in the scientific community as to what exactly causes cancer in an individual. Different doctors have different answers to this query, but nonetheless, some of the most agreed upon causes of cancer in the medical world are :
• Smoking: Smoking is the leading cause of cancer in the world today. There are certain chemicals in cigarettes like benzopyrene and nitrosamines that cause permanent damage to the DNA. To make matters worse, other chemicals in cigarettes like chromium and nickel make the removal of benzopyrene more difficult, and therefore, increase the likelihood of DNA damage. This damage gradually leads to cancer.
• Hormones: Certain levels of hormones have been associated with increased risk of cancer. For instance, women with a family history of breast cancer have higher levels of estrogen and progesterone.
• Genes: Sometimes, family genes play a role in increasing the chances of cancer in a person. Fortunately, hereditary cancers account for less than 10% of cancer cases across the world population.
• Obesity: Increased fat concentration and cholesterol levels in blood can increase risks of contracting many diseases including cancer because they affect the way in which our organs work and how our body functions at a cellular level.
• Carcinogens: External or environmental agents, called carcinogens also cause cancer in an individual. These include benzene, sisha, tobacco, asbestos, powdered metallic elements like cobalt and nickel.
Does aspirin prevent chances of cancer in an individual?
The relationship between aspirin and cancer is a complicated one which has garnered much debate because this is a fairly new discovery and there has not been much scientific studies to authenticate it. Aspirin is one of the most used drugs around the world since it is used to treat pain as well as heart disorders. But during 2015, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a document which says that Aspirin can be used to prevent colon cancer as well as rectal cancer in individual.
In the document of Annals of Oncology, a report said that intake of a low dose of aspirin for 10 years on a regular basis helps to reduce the risk of developing colon cancer by around 35 percent and deaths from colon cancer by around 40 percent.
How does aspirin act to prevent cancer?
As a drug, aspirin is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, that is, it helps to bring down and prevent swelling. Inflammation is the body’s way of treating any injury to any body cell and muscle tissue. In individuals with chronic inflammation, the process of inflammation does not stop when it should. It so happens that over a long span of time, chronic inflammation can lead to serious changes, for instance, the formation of new blood vessels and alterations to our DNA. This, in turn, can lead to the formation of malignant tumor which can cause cancer. Aspirin works by blocking the effects of OX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, which can lead to abnormal inflammatory responses.
A study conducted in the year 2011 has shown that it prevents the metastasis or the spreading of cancer cells throughout the various organs of the body, in the cases of most forms of cancer. This is done by aspirin’s ability to make the blood less sticky and less dense. When the platelets in the blood are less sticky, there are less chances of them carrying the cancer causing cells to other parts of the body.
Several studies have also reveal that taking aspirin can inhibit the growth of cells causing breast cancer as well as decrease the invasive properties tumor cell and stimulate immune responsiveness. Besides this, there are some evidence to suggest that use of aspirin lowers the risk of developing cancer of the esophagus and other forms of gastrointestinal cancer.
What are some of the aspirin side effects?
Although aspirin is widely recommended by doctors for its broad spectrum of benefits, there are still some debates regarding its daily intake to prevent chances of cancer in an individual. Of course, there are tons of scheduled scientific tests and medical trials that are scheduled to be done in order to determine the effects of aspirin, but there are certain aspirin side effects that force doctors to recommend this drug with precaution.
• Bleeding in Pregnant women :Taking of aspirin by pregnant women can cause heavy bleeding. If a mother continues to take aspirin during her pregnancy, it may pass into the baby through breast milk, and cause permanent harm.
• Stomach lesions: The most intense and widely registered cases of the side effects of aspirin are gastrointestinal cases. Long term use of high doses of aspirin causes stomach lesions, ulcers and internal bleeding of the stomach in an individual. One case study has suggested that there may be a direct link between the intake of aspirin and a case of severe appendicitis.
• Bleeding: As a result of bleeding in the stomach, sometimes, people tend to vomit blood or they tend to bleed through the nose at irregular intervals. Blood in the stool and urine can also be noted in some cases. Since aspirin is a blood thinner, in some cases, it so happens that you may sustain a cut and it may take a really long time for the bleeding to stop.
• Physical weakness: In some reported cases, mostly in elder citizens, a strong dose of daily aspirin intake can lead to sever vomiting, and prolonged spells of dizziness and weakness or a general feeling of lethargy. It can also lead to a feeling of buzzing in your arms and legs, and a ringing in your ears.
• Complications of the nervous system: In extremely rare cases, side effects of using aspirin can cause hearing impairment, hemorrhaging of the cranium as well as prolonged irregular seizures.
Studies have extensively been conducted and of course, more are to follow in the coming years, but it is generally agreed upon, from whatever evidence we have right now, that the positive effects of using aspirin including preventing cancer and heart disease in individuals, far outweigh the chances and severities of side effects.
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