According to a new Harvard study, aspirin may play a therapeutic role in minimising hearing loss sustained by tumour growths, reports Chemist Direct

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When the first clinical trials on the affect of taking daily aspirin concluded researchers found that more than just preventing heart attacks, strokes & blood clots, aspirin affected those with cancer, decreasing the death rates of colon cancer patients by 35%.


Aspirin may play a therapeutic role in certain cancers

This sparked many new studies based on the combined data of 20 years worth of surveys, research and follow-up studies, allowing various researches an opportunity to investigate the specific effect of aspirin on various forms of cancer.

A research team led by Peter M. Rothwell, FMedSci, of the University of Oxford in England, published their results in The Lancet 1 from 4 clinical trials that randomly assigned more than 14,000 people to take daily aspirin or a placebo for periods of about 3 to 7 years, depending on the trial. Low doses of 75 mg - 300 mg of aspirin, given daily, had the same results as higher does and when taken for 5 years or longer could cut death rates for all cancers by a third.

In another study, conducted by Sir John Burns together with the Newcastle Hospital, 861 people took two aspirins a day of 600mg or a placebo, for varying lengths of time. In the group who took the aspirin for a period of 10 years only 19 people developed cancer, although almost twice as many were affected in the group who took the placebo.

The report printed in The Lancet 2 showed it was most effective if taken when patients were still in their late 40s or 50s. The cause for the startling reaction of aspirin to cancerous cells is still largely unknown, although Burn’s believes the aspirins chemical compound triggers the damaged, cancerous cells to destroy themselves at an early stage.

Taking this theory a step further, a new study released by the Harvard Medical school and combined with data from the Massachusetts IT, Eye and Ear and General Hospital, demonstrated the ability to stop the growth of lethal intracranial tumours and vestibular schwannomas through taking a daily dose of aspirin. These acoustic neuromas typically cause hearing loss and tinnitus.

“Currently, there are no FDA-approved drug therapies to treat these tumors, which are the most common tumors of the cerebellopontine angle and the fourth most common intracranial tumors,” explains Konstantina Stankovic, M.D., Ph.D., who led the study. “Current options for management of growing vestibular schwannomas include surgery (via craniotomy) or radiation therapy, both of which are associated with potentially serious complications.”

The findings, which are described in the February issue of the journal Otology and Neurotology, 3 were based on a retrospective series of 689 people, 347 of whom were followed with multiple magnetic resonance imaging MRI scans (50.3%).

The main outcome measures were patient use of aspirin and rate of vestibular schwannoma growth measured by changes in the largest tumor dimension as noted on serial MRIs. A significant inverse association was found among aspirin users and vestibular schwannoma growth (odds ratio: 0.50, 95 percent confidence interval: 0.29-0.85), which was not confounded by age or gender.

“Our results suggest a potential therapeutic role of aspirin in inhibiting vestibular schwannoma growth,” said Dr. Stankovic, who is an otologic surgeon and researcher at Mass. Eye and Ear, Assistant Professor of Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School (HMS), and member of the faculty of Harvard’s program in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology.4


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Samantha Smith
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