Aspirin can help stop colon cancer

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and mainly affects people over 50 years of age. The chances of recovery often depend on how far the cancer has spread. Researchers have now found that aspirin can help stop the growth of cancer cells.

The widespread drug is valued primarily for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic effects. But aspirin could also be helpful in the fight against colon cancer.

Aspirin affects the development of colon cancer cells

According to researchers at the University of California, Irvine (USA), aspirin could affect the development of colon cancer cells in such a way that they would be less able to survive and multiply. Accordingly, aspirin slows down the division of tumor cells and at the same time increases cell death.1

The study was recently published in the journal eLife. Co-author Dominik Wodarz, Professor of Population Health and Disease Prevention at the Institute of Public Health, explains: “Cancer arises because cells develop from a healthy to a disease state in which they are constantly dividing. This occurs when cells have acquired a number of mutations and these mutations have been selected. We have found that aspirin affects and slows down this process. ”2

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A study in patients with Lynch syndrome

A previous study had already looked at the effect of aspirin on patients with Lynch syndrome. It is an inherited disease that increases the risk of certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer. Patients took 600 milligrams of aspirin daily for two years. Result: the risk of colorectal cancer decreased by 63 percent.3 Many other studies have confirmed this result. Aspirin has now been shown to affect colon cancer cells for the first time.

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The mathematical model provides information

What’s special: The current University of California study is not based solely on empirical results. Instead, lead author Natalia Komarova, a professor of mathematics, developed a mathematical model that could be used to predict occurrence at the population level when cell kinetics were altered by aspirin treatment. Professor: “We thought that the slowing down of cancer development due to aspirin must somehow come about by slowing down the development of cells towards malignancy. We were surprised that this mechanism was able to explain relatively well the level of protection observed in the human population. In other words, the predicted level was consistent with the protective effect observed in epidemiological studies on the human population. “

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And her colleague Dominik Wodarz emphasizes: “This work is an example of how mathematical approaches can be very useful for understanding complex phenomena in cancer biology. Such knowledge could not be obtained by experiment alone. It requires the cooperation of empirical biological work and mathematics. “


  • 1. Wang, CY, Wodarz, D., Komarova, NL (2022). The effect of aspirin on cell kinetic parameters contributes to its role in reducing the incidence of advanced colorectal adenomas, as demonstrated in a multiscale computational study. eLife.
  • UCI news. UCI researchers have found that aspirin alters the development of colorectal cancer. (released on 6/14/22)
  • 2. Burn, J., Gerdes, A.-M., Macrae, F. (2011). The long-term effect of aspirin on cancer risk in carriers of hereditary colorectal cancer: an analysis from a randomized controlled trial of CAPP2. Lancet.

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