Ireland Cancer Center researcher lays out benefits of aspirin to prevent colon cancer

A colon cancer researcher at the Ireland Cancer Center of University Hospitals Case Medical Center (UHCMC) has laid out the roadmap for how medical science should employ aspirin and new aspirin-like drugs for use in preventing colon cancer in certain high-risk individuals.

In today's New England Journal of Medicine, Sanford Markowitz, MD, PhD, writes an editorial accompanying research from Dr. Charles Fuchs' team at Harvard Medical School that lays out the hypothesized mechanism by which the use of aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), also called COX-2 inhibitors, act to decrease the risk of developing colon cancer.

"The compelling evidence that chronic use of aspirin or certain NSAIDS can substantially lower the risk of colon cancer has important implications, especially because colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death," writes Dr. Markowitz, the Francis Wragg Ingalls Professor of Cancer Genetics at UHCMC and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

In the Journal article, the Harvard researchers' findings demonstrated that two-thirds of colon cancers have high levels of expression of the COX-2 enzyme, which is blocked by aspirin. Individuals who regularly used aspirin over a course of several years demonstrated a 36% decrease in the risk of developing one of these high COX-2 expressing colon cancers. These results again demonstrated that drugs that block COX-2 can decrease the risk of colon cancer, and demonstrated that such drugs specifically target those individuals whose tumor development is encouraged by the action of the COX-2 enzyme.

Dr. Markowitz' accompanying editorial maps out those studies which will be required to determine the potential use of aspirin in prevention of colon cancer and to determine which individuals might benefit most from taking aspirin or aspirin-like drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen and Celebrex. Finally, the editorial outlines potential

Contact: Alicia Reale
University Hospitals of Cleveland

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