Aspirin, mesothelioma: these words have rarely appeared in the same sentence until now. Expert lung cancer researchers have just discovered that low dose daily aspirin may reduce the risk of developing mesothelioma in susceptible people exposed to asbestos.
Daily Low Dose Aspirin Found to Reduce Mesothelioma Risk
The researchers from the Thoracic Oncology Program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa published the results of their research in the scientific journal Cell Death and Disease. Their research studies showed that aspirin slows down the growth of mesothelioma by blocking the cancer-producing effects of an inflammatory molecule in the cells. Although the study was done using laboratory mice, the researchers believe that the results can be equally effective for humans. But they state that further research is needed to confirm this.
The scientists’ research paper reported giving aspirin daily to some of the laboratory mice – “25 mg per day which according to previous studies should be equivalent to 80–110 mg per day in humans.” Another group of mice was given 50 mg per day. Both groups of mice showed similar favorable results with only slightly higher results at the higher dose of aspirin.
Low dose aspirin recently has been reported to help reduce risk of several other types of cancer, especially colon cancer. But the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society want more research studies done before they will recommend aspirin for cancer prevention.
Aspirin Mesothelioma Study Helps Pinpoint Inflammatory Molecule
This new aspirin mesothelioma study further pinpoints an inflammatory molecule called High-Mobility Group Box 1 (HMGB1) as part of the mechanism in the progression of mesothelioma. The researchers believe this molecule directly promotes mesothelioma growth.
“HMGB1 is an inflammatory molecule that plays a critical role in the initiation and progression of malignant mesothelioma. Inhibiting HMGB1 dramatically reduced malignant mesothelioma growth in mice and significantly improved survival of treated animals,” said Haining Yang, an associate professor in the Thoracic Oncology Program at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center.
Could Aspirin Prevent Mesothelioma?
Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a fatal cancer that attacks cells lining vital internal organs, most often the lungs. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Breathing in even small amounts of these microscopic asbestos fibers could result in mesothelioma. The frightening thing is that the damage asbestos does can work silently in the body for decades. By the time mesothelioma symptoms emerge, it usually means it is too late and the disease has progressed to its final lethal stage.
So while this new research linking aspirin to possibly preventing the development of mesothelioma is very promising, it is important to keep in mind that possible prevention is the key idea here. Aspirin will not cure mesothelioma once symptoms lead to a diagnosis.
If the new findings of the researchers about aspirin and mesothelioma continue to be developed, we may see aspirin recommended for possible mesothelioma prevention in the future in situations where asbestos exposure is likely.
The researchers theorized that people at high risk of developing mesothelioma could take aspirin as a way to prevent or delay the growth of the cancer, and thus increase their chances of survival.
Aspirin could be used in the near future to prevent possible mesothelioma from asbestos exposure in high risk occupations such as construction workers, auto mechanics, shipyard workers, power plant and refinery workers.
Of course, other proper safety precautions still would need to be taken to avoid asbestos exposure. Aspirin would simply act as another safety step.
Daily low dose aspirin for older people is currently recommended to help prevent heart attack and stroke. But to help prevent mesothelioma, people at higher risk for asbestos exposure would have to start taking aspirin at a younger age during their working years.
Aspirin Mesothelioma Prevention Measures – Theory
The University of Hawaii researchers theorized that people at high risk for developing mesothelioma could take a daily low-dose aspirin as a way to prevent or delay mesothelioma and potentially increase their chances of survival. This would include people occupationally exposed to asbestos and their family members. The scientists also call for additional studies to uncover the precise mechanism by which aspirin blocks the inflammatory molecule HMGB1. This could help increase understanding of the ways the mesothelioma process begins and provide more possibilities for early intervention to save lives.