Study examines aspirin’s ability to protect against colorectal cancer

March 10th, 2011 - 11:35 am ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar 10 (ANI): A new study says that elevations in a particular inflammatory factor in the blood may determine whether colorectal cancer risk can be reduced by taking aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

“These findings suggest that a blood biomarker may be helpful in deciding whether individuals should take aspirin or NSAIDs to reduce their cancer risk,” said Andrew Chan at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“They also indicate that chronic inflammatory pathways are quite complex and further studies are needed to understand which facets of the inflammatory response are most associated with the development of colorectal cancer.”

The investigators analyzed data from the Nurses Health Study (NHS), which has followed more than 120,000 female registered nurses since 1976, gathering comprehensive health information from its participants every two years.

After identifying 280 participants who developed colorectal cancer during the subsequent 14 years and 555 age-matched controls who did not, the research team analyzed their baseline levels of three inflammatory factors - C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor-2 (sTNFR-2).

They found that participants with the highest levels of sTNFR-2 had a 60 percent greater risk than did those with the lowest levels of the factor.

Those with high baseline sTNFR-2 levels showed reduced risk of developing colorectal tumors associated with regularly taking aspirin or NSAIDs.

“Our results suggest that, even though chronic inflammation may increase colorectal cancer risk, not all blood markers of inflammation are markers of that risk,” said Chan.

“The most common blood biomarkers of inflammation - CRP and IL-6 - do not appear to be relevant, while sTNFR-2 does. A better understanding of the significance of these markers will help us identify individuals most likely to benefit from chemoprevention using aspirin or NSAIDs.”

The study appears in the March issue of Gastroenterology. (ANI)

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