Aspirin for Cancer Prevention?

Can cancer prevention be as simple as an aspirin-a-day? According to a recent study, the answer is yes.

In this study, which was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers evaluated the effect of a long-term (5 years or longer) adult dose (greater than or equal to 325 mg daily) of aspirin on risk of cancer.

The study, involving over 150,000 older men and women, found a 32% lower risk of colorectal cancer, a 19% lower risk of prostate cancer and a 17% decrease in the risk of breast cancer which could be attributed to chance.

Those who know me, know that I am not a fan of regular aspirin use for prevention of any disease. In my opinion, the risks simply do not outweigh the benefits. Daily aspirin is most popular for its use in prevention of heart disease, however, it’s a little known fact that aspirin has never been shown to prolong anyone’s life! But you say, “Aspirin prevents heart attacks!”

According to the research this is technically true, heart attack rates appear to be less for those who take a baby aspirin daily. The problem is, funeral rates are exactly the same! In fact, senior citizens who take aspirin daily have higher funeral rates meaning they die sooner!

Let’s follow the logic, the fatal side effects of low dose aspirin cancel out the protective effect of aspirin on the nation’s number one killer – heart disease. Higher dose aspirin will most certainly have a higher risk of side effect, and cancer does not kill nearly as many people annually as heart disease. My belief is that the fatal side effects of daily, adult-dose aspirin will far outweigh the benefits. This doesn’t mean that we cannot make use of the information from this study!

Wherever there’s chronic inflammation you have a significantly increased risk of cancer. We see this in the colon when people have chronic autoimmune conditions of the colon, with liver cancer in those with hepatitis, with cervical cancer with HPV infection and with esophageal cancer in those with chronic heartburn. We have a very fundamental understanding of the negative effects of inflammation on the DNA that may lead to mutations in cells which can result in a tumor over time. It then makes sense that if we can decrease inflammation, there should be a decrease in cancer risk and this is what we see.

There are certain herbs and plant chemicals that have known anti-inflammatory effects without the potential side effects of aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen, naproxen and Celebrex. These herbs include ginger, turmeric, boswellia and rosemary, just to name a few. These compounds are commonly used for everyday aches and pains and seem to have significant anti-cancer benefit.

A formula that we use, which combines potent forms of these and other herbs, includes Botanical Treasure by Natura Health Products. Otherwise, use herbal formulas and cooking spices that contain more of these anti-cancer compounds.

One other extremely important natural anti-inflammatory that we discuss often is omega-3 fish oil. The essential fatty acids found in fish oil are well known for their benefits in correcting inflammation. These essential fatty acids are also important for regulating cell division in addition to their anti-inflammatory effect. A suggested dose is at least 1800 mg of EPA and 1200 mg of DHA daily.

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