Science News

Anti-Cancer Asprin

Sun, 11th Feb 2007

Part of the show Nuclear Power

The humble aspirin is a bit of a wonder-drug. Not only can it cure aches and pains, but some research has shown that it might help to prevent certain types of cancer, including bowel cancer. Now Cancer Research UK has opened a clinical trial to test whether the drug can prevent oesophageal cancer – that’s cancer of the gullet/food-pipe. This type of cancer is on the risk in the UK, and we have one of the highest rates of the disease in Europe. The researchers are recruiting 5,000 men and women across the UK who suffer from a condition known as Barrett’s oesophagus. This is an illness in which acid reflux from the stomach back up into the gullet causes cells to change their identity, and become more “stomach-like”. Having Barrett’s oesophagus can increase your risk of oesophageal cancer – in fact, having the condition makes you fifty times more likely to get oesophageal cancer, although only around one in a hundred people with the condition will go on to get cancer. The clinical trial, known as ASPECT, will test whether the combination of aspirin and an acid-blocking anti-ulcer drug called esomeprazole can prevent cancer from developing in people with Barrett’s oesophagus. They think it might work by damping down acid production and long-term low-level inflammation that is believed to contribute to cancer. The ASPECT team are looking for people who want to take part in the trial. The best way to find out more is to ask your GP, call the Cancer Research UK nurse team on 0207 061 8355, or look at the charity’s patient information website, which is www.cancerhelp.org.uk

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