An observational study by Cardiff University of over 520,000 cancer patients has shown:
- at any time following the diagnosis of some cancers the proportion of patients who were still alive was 20-30% greater in those taking aspirin, and
- the spread of cancer to other parts of the body was also substantially reduced in patients using aspirin. http://bit.ly/AspCard
While the study was not perfect, nor was it a clinical trial, it is hard to ignore. It provides some evidence to support consideration of our aspirin + fish oil/Omega 3 research we’ll call the AO3 Story. That is: when you take aspirin and fish oil/Omega 3, they have a chemical reaction which helps the body create Resolvins. These naturally occurring molecules mop up the treatment induced dead cancer cells that would otherwise fuel new tumours at a frightening rate of 100 times that of normal. Hopefully, Resolvins stop the all too common relapse.
The AO3 Story provides a plausible explanation of why aspirin helped cancer suffers in the Cardiff Study. See the full AO3 Story at: http://bit.ly/ResBlog1. It suggests that you could have an even better result than the 20-30% benefit if you also took fish oil or regularly ate fish along with low dose aspirin, which some of the participants would have done.
To prove this, we would need a clinical trial costing millions and taking 5 to 10 years. In the meantime, we have to “make do” with the Cardiff Study, or the “unproven” AO3 Story lab studies. AO3 should give cancer patients at least the benefits of the Cardiff Study, plus the potential greater benefits of a higher production of Resolvins needed to deal with the surge in dead cancer cells following treatment. We see the Cardiff Study as encouraging evidence that we are on the right track.
The recent ASPREE study found that Aspirin for healthy people aged 70+ is a bleed risk and provides little benefit. However, for cancer sufferers it seems a risk worth taking, according to the Cardiff Study as the benefits are undeniable.
The bleed risk can be reduced by ensuring a low dose, coating the aspirin and dealing with gut bacteria that has recently been found to increase the risk of bleeding by 2.5 times. http://bit.ly/AspBleedBac
Interestingly, this positive news raises the question of doctors drawing such information to the attention of their patients, as also noted in the Cardiff Study. This leads to some thorny legal, ethical and social issues we will explore in another blog post. That includes the pros and cons for patients supplementing their treatment with AO3, and more controversially, the risk for doctors of NOT drawing their patients attention to such information.
Another post will also consider whether current treatments of chemotherapy and radiotherapy which kill cancer cells that fuel new tumours need to be “softened” so the body’s immune system can better deal with the “cytokine storms”. This raises another risk by doctors of persisting with a blitzkrieg approach to treatments that overwhelm the body’s defences against dead cancer cells.
Improvements in our ability to measure Resolvins and dead cancer cells are needed to move on from the traditional “one-size-fits-all” shotgun approaches, towards more informed decisions. But they remain technical challenges. Regardless, a bigger challenge seems attitudinal in nature, and includes a reluctance to even investigate lab-based discoveries, let alone consider change without perfect proof.
The emerging age of more precise healthcare, along with patient collaboration and empowerment, demands full disclosure. Ironically, the legal bogeyman responsible for so much inertia in getting cures to patients, might be awakened to robustly lead the medical establishment to more innovative approaches, and faster cures, without the acceptance of relapses as the norm.