Aspirin Use May Slow Pancreatic, Colon Cancer Metastasis

Study finds link between aspirin and blood platelets in cancer cells.

Aspirin could slow the spread of pancreatic cancer and certain types of colon cancer, according to a study published in Cell Physiology.

Low doses of aspirin have demonstrated a reduction in the risk of some types of gastrointestinal cancers, but the process by which this occurs has remained unclear.

“The current study was designed to determine the effect of inhibition of platelet activation and function by aspirin therapy on colon and pancreatic cancer cell proliferation,” the study authors wrote.

For the study, investigators combined activated platelets primed for the clotting process with metastatic colon cancer cells, nonmetastatic colon cancer cells, and nonmetastatic pancreatic cancer cells.

The investigators added aspirin to the mixture, and the results of the study demonstrated that the platelets could no longer stimulate growth and replication in the pancreatic and nonmetastatic colon cancer cells. Meanwhile, the aspirin-treated metastatic colon cancer cells continued to multiply.

In the pancreatic cancer cells, low doses of aspirin stopped the platelets from releasing growth factor, and dampened the signaling of the oncoproteins that cause cancer to survive and spread, according to the study.

Only the highest-doses, which were larger than what can be taken orally, were found to be effective in stopping growth in the metastatic colon cells.

“Our study reveals important differences and specificities in the mechanism of action of high- and low-dose aspiring in metastatic and nonmetastatic cancer cells with different tumor origins and suggests that the ability of aspirin to prevent platelet-induced c-MYC expression might be selective for a non-metastatic phenotype,” the investigators concluded.