Aspirin may reduce the risk of bowel cancer, according to new research. The latest study to examine this relationship outlines how the renowned painkiller might manage this cancer.
Aspirin is a popular over-the-counter painkiller, is commonly taken to treat aches and pains. Also known as acetylsalicylic acid, it is regularly used to prevent more serious conditions, such as stroke and blood clots in at-risk patients.
Evidence has been growing over the years that aspirin might also prevent bowel (colorectal) cancer.
A 20-year follow-up of five randomized clinical trials published in 2010 concluded that daily intake of aspirin, taken over many years, “reduced long-term incidence and mortality due to colorectal cancer.”
Also, in 2010, another study looking at shorter-term aspirin demonstrated “a protective effect against [colorectal cancer] associated with the lowest dose of aspirin after only 5 years use in the general population.”
Although evidence is still mounting, exactly how aspirin protects against certain cancers is still not understood. In a recent paper, published in the journal Nucleic Acids Research, scientists attempted to find out. They focused on a structure within the cell called the nucleolus.
The nucleolus and aspirin
The nucleolus is the largest structure within the nucleus of cells. Its function is to produce ribosomes, which is responsible for synthesizing all of the cell’s protein.
Cancer cells spend the majority of their energy on the production of new ribosomes. When the nucleolus is activated, it appears to drive tumor growth.
This appears to be because, as cells divide and multiply, they need to generate more ribosomes to keep up with increased demands of protein, so the nucleolus needs to shift up a gear.