A new study has found how medical science could employ aspirin and new aspirin-like drugs for use in preventing colon cancer in certain high-risk individuals.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by Sanford Markowitz at the Ireland Cancer Center.
As part of the study, researchers demonstrated the hypothesized mechanism by which the use of aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), also called COX-2 inhibitors, act to decrease the risk of developing colon cancer.
Researchers found that two-thirds of colon cancers have high levels of expression of the COX-2 enzyme, which is blocked by aspirin. Individuals who regularly used aspirin over a course of several years demonstrated a 36 percent decrease in the risk of developing one of these high COX-2 expressing colon cancers. These results again demonstrated that drugs that block COX-2 can decrease the risk of colon cancer, and demonstrated that such drugs specifically target those individuals whose tumor development is encouraged by the action of the COX-2 enzyme.
"The compelling evidence that chronic use of aspirin or certain NSAIDS can substantially lower the risk of colon cancer has important implications, especially because colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death," Markowitz wrote.
"Interventional trials have shown a decreased risk of the development of colon cancer in high-risk subjects who were given aspirin or COX-2 selective NSAID inhibitors and observational trials have associated a decreased risk of colon cancer with aspirin use," Markowitz added. br>
"The researchers' findings provide powerful support for the role of COX-2 as a key mediator in the development of colon cancer and now pose questions about the biologic basis and clinical applications of discovering differences that express high or low levels of COX-2," he added.
Earlier research by Markowitz in the field of colon cancer genetics and prevention found that a new 'Celebrex-like' gene called 15-PGDH suppresses the grown of colon cancer, which may lead to the development of a new drug for colon cancer prevention.
Celebrex is a naturally occurring Cox-2 inhibitor.
The findings of the study were published in May issue of New England Journal of Medicine.