ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How Aspirin Reduces Cancer Incidence by 40%

Updated on February 28, 2014

Aspirin works within the free radical framework

Free radical framework

in the interpretation that follows, aspirin works within the free radical framework. Simply put, a framework is like a sun glass colored green. All you see through this sun glass has the tinge of green. This framework involves free radicals and its derivatives called reactive oxygen species. These are singly or in combination used as independent variables in the conduct of scientific experiment.

Let us first see the context. The enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX) acts on arachidonic acid and produces prostaglandins. This consists of thromboxane and prostacyclin. The by-product of this reaction is superoxide, a free radical (Sears, B. Ph.D. The Zone. 1995).

COX consists of COX-1 and COX-2. These cause inflammation, ulcer, and pain among others. Thromboxane and prostacyclin are eicosanoids; but that is another story.

Thromboxane promotes aggregation of blood platelets that may result in clotting. Blood clot that lodges in occluded part of an artery, called plaque, lessens blood flow that may result in stroke or heart attack.

Prostacyclin does the opposite of thromboxane. It dilates arteries and promotes blood flow. It alleviates angina and prevents stroke and heart attack.

Comes aspirin

Now comes aspirin into the picture. Aspirin, as inhibitor, modifies COX-1; allows some production of thromboxane and prostacyclin. COX-2 completely blocks their production. So, no thromboxane and prostacyclin are produced. Also no superoxide is produced.

Aspirin is a COX-1 inhibitor that allows production of some thromboxane and prostacyclin that is why it can prevent heart attack. Prostacyclin is essential in the prevention of aggregation of blood platelet. By allowing a limited amount of superoxide it limits the population of superoxide that injure DNA that results in tumor and cancer. That is why aspirin also prevents to some degree cancer.

(I have a Hub on how pain relievers induce stroke and heart attack. I have several Hubs on free radicals.)

Research found that aspirin controlled cancer by 40%. That is, aspirin reduced the occurrence of cancer by 40% (Sears, 1995).

There is a side effect of blocking COX altogether for a long time. Arachidonic acid accumulates and becomes converted into leukotreine. This is a mediator of allergy. That is why a fellow who takes aspirin for a long time becomes allergic to any drug.

The above discussion also explains why a COX-2 inhibitor induces stroke or heart attack. This inhibitor blocks the production of thromboxane and prostacyclin. This was the case of Vioxx, a painkiller that also blocks COX-2. Vioxx was withdrawn from the market in 2004 by its maker, Merck company, when it found that it promotes stroke and heart attack when taken continuously in 18 months.

Nitric oxide

So far, the more extensive research on free radicals involve nitric oxide, a gas free radical produced by the inner wall of the artery (endothelium). We now know that the endothelium produces three kinds of nitric oxide (NO) depending on the kind of enzyme catalyzing the reaction.

The endothelium nitric oxidase (NOS) enzyme produces NO/eNOS. The inducible nitric oxidase produces NO/iNOS. The neuron nitric oxidase produces NO/nNOS. NO/eNOS is a free radical that signals the artery to dilate.

Research on nitric oxide was triggered by three Nobel Prize winners in medicine in 1998: Robert Futchgott, Ferid Murad and Louis Ignarro. Their work explain how nitroglycerin alleviates angina and prevent heart attack. For a long time nitroglycerin had been used for these purposes but its mechanism was unknown. Nitroglycerin (Imdur, Isordil) produces nitric oxide. An artery with plaque does not produce NO just when NO is needed to dilate it (Ornish, D. MD. Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease, 1996)..

Futchgott found that the endothelium produces a gas messenger that dilates the artery and called it endothelium-derived relaxation factor (EDRF). Later, Murad found that nitroglycerin produces nitric oxide. Then Ignarro found that EDRF and nitric oxide are the same.

However, there remained one question and that was: isn't it that free radicals are harmful? Later research on nitric oxide found that there are three kinds of nitric oxide. So, three categories emerged: free radicals (molecular oxygen, singlet oxygen, superoxide), reactive oxygen species (ROS) also called reactive oxygen intermediates (hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radical, alkoxy radical, lipid peroxide, peroxynitrite), and signal free radical (nitric oxide produced by the endothelium nitric oxidase). I have another Hub on this matter.

All three kinds are involved in heart disease and cancer. They are useful or harmful depending on their role. Free radicals and ROS initiate cancer. However, free radicals and ROS as active ingredients of chemotherapy drugs also kill cancer cells.

We need more research in the free radical framework, especially for heart disease and cancer, the number one and number two killers in the world .


Submit a Comment

  • conradofontanilla profile imageAUTHOR


    4 years ago from Philippines

    Caution on aspirin though. If taken continuously it can induce internal bleeding because thin blood can seep through arteries. It can also induce allergy to any drug. By blocking the metabolism of arachidonic acid, the latter accumulates. Too much arachidonic acid converts to leukotriene that mediates allergy to any drug.

  • jantamaya profile image

    Maria Janta-Cooper 

    5 years ago from UK

    I believe you (I've read something about this topic before).

    OK, Aspirin for president!

    Seriously, I take aspirin sometimes to relieve headache... It might help in some other cases too.

    Voted up, great hub! Shared too, may other know about the advantages of aspirin :-)


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)