A new study offers further evidence of the anticancer effects of aspirin, after finding that regular use of the drug could help to lower the risk of liver cancer.
What is aspirin?
Mainly aspirin is a painkiller which can be taken to relieve pain such as headache, toothache and period pain. It is also suitable to treat cold and 'flu-like' symptoms, and to reduce a high temperature (fever).
Aspirin is a salicylate(sa-LIS-il-ate). It works by reducing substances in the body that cause pain,fever, and inflammation. The steps involved in the synthesis of aspirin are as follow:
Aspirin can be taken by adults and by children over 16 years of age, but it is not suitable for younger children. In the past, aspirin has also been used toreduce pain and inflammation in rheumatic conditions, but other medicines are now usually preferred by the doctors.
The Low-strength aspirin is also prescribed to help prevent unwanted blood clots from forming within the body.
New study-how daily aspirin could lower the liver cancer risk
The researcher’s team from Taiwan found that individuals with hepatitis B which is a known risk factor for liver cancer were less likely to develop liver cancer if they received daily aspirin therapy.
Leader of the study team Dr. Teng‐Yu Lee of the Department of Gastroenterology at Taichung Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan and colleagues recently reported their findings at The Liver Meeting 2017, held by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in Washington, D.C.
The life threatening hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV). It is estimated to affect around 257 million people across the globe, and in 2015, the infection was responsible for around 887,000 deaths worldwide.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, it is estimated that between 850,000 and 2.2 million people have chronic hepatitis B.
CDC also report that approximately 15–25 percent of those with chronic hepatitis B goes on to develop severe liver conditions, such as liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. Each year, around 1,800 people in the U.S. die from HBV-related liver diseases.
Although there are antiviral therapies that can help to reduce liver cancer risk in people with hepatitis B, but Dr. Lee and team note that these medications do not fully eradicate the risk.
Furthermore,they note that some people infected with HBV are not deemed suitable candidates for antiviral medications, so there is a need for alternative therapies that can reduce the risk of liver cancer for these patients.
The last few studies have suggested that aspirin can help to lower cancer risk, now this research has investigated the effects of this drug against liver cancer.
"Therefore,"says Dr. Lee, "we conducted a large-scale cohort study to evaluate the association of aspirin therapy with HBV‐related liver cancer."
Liver cancer risk reduced by over a third
For the new findings, the team used the 1998–2012 National Health Insurance Research Database to analyze the medical records of 204,507 patients with chronic hepatitis B.
The researchers identified 1,553 patients who had received daily aspirin therapy for at least 90 days and who were free of liver cancer prior to treatment initiation. These patients were matched 1:4 with 6,212 others, none of whom had ever received any form of anti-platelet therapy.
Scientists also looked at the cumulative incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma(HCC) — the most common form of liver cancer — among participants over a period of 5 years, as well as their overall risk of developing liver cancer.
From their study they found that those participants who received daily aspirin therapy, the cumulative HCC incidence was much lower compared with the untreated patients, with incident rates of 2.86 percent and 5.59 percent,respectively.
Again, the risk of HCC development over 5 years was found to be 37 percent lower for patients who received daily aspirin therapy,the team reports, compared with the untreated patients.
Further research is required to confirm the benefits of aspirin therapy for patients with hepatitis B, but Dr. Lee and team believe that their findings show promise.
"For effectively preventing HBV-related liver cancer, the findings of this study may help hepatologists treat patients with chronic HBV infection in the future,particularly for those who are not indicated for antiviral therapy." Dr.Teng‐Yu Lee
"We are pursuing prospective investigations for further confirming the findings," he concludes.