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An Aspirin a Day May Keep Mesothelioma Away

A recent study reveals that taking an aspirin every day may be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of mesothelioma in persons exposed to asbestos.

The Facts

  • Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos affecting over 3,000 Americans every year.
  • Exposure to asbestos is the only universally accepted cause of mesothelioma.
  • Asbestos was used in thousands of industrial, construction, automotive, and consumer products for much of the last century.
  • Asbestos-contaminated talc was used in many cosmetic and medicated powders.
  • Inhaled asbestos fibers become trapped in the linings of the lungs or stomach triggering an inflammatory response which can lead to a diagnosis of mesothelioma 20-60 years after exposure.
  • Despite recent advances, treatments for mesothelioma are associated with only limited increases in median survival.

“An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure”

Researchers have isolated an inflammatory molecule (HMGB1) which plays a critical role in the inflammatory response to asbestos which leads to mesothelioma. In a 2015 study published in a leading medical journal, researchers found that common over-the-counter aspirin is effective in blocking the effects of HMGB1 and preventing or delaying the onset of mesothelioma.

The results of this study were presented by Dr. Haining Yang, a professor in the Cancer Biology Program at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, at the 6th International Symposium of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. The Worthington & Caron Law Firm was proud to be the lead sponsor of this unique symposium, focusing on lung-sparing treatments for pleural mesothelioma, for the sixth straight year.

The 2015 study, an animal study, produced results consistent with an earlier 24-year human study finding a 30% reduction in the risk of developing mesothelioma in the over 11,000 subjects who took 325 mg (one adult aspirin) every other day. The results are also consistent with studies showing that 81 mg (one child aspirin) to 375 mg of aspirin daily decreases the incidence of colon cancer and other inflammation-related cancers.

The researchers cautioned that their findings are limited to aspirin’s role in preventing or slowing mesothelioma before it is symptomatic. The inflammatory response to asbestos, aided by HMGB1, takes 20 to 60 years until the patient notices the symptoms of mesothelioma. Accordingly, asbestos-exposed workers interested in aspirin as a “prevention strategy” should begin sooner rather than later.

As with all medications, there are potential side effects, and it is important that aspirin be taken under the supervision of a doctor. However, for many years, aspirin has been found to be safe and effective in preventing a number of conditions including heart attacks, strokes, migraines, and other types of cancer and is taken daily by millions of Americans.

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