Disease is something humanity has always faced, but as researchers work around the clock to find cures, occasionally the answer is something already in medicine cabinets around the world. A research study about to be launched in Australia is investigating the suspicions that cancer and dementia could each be a disease that is curable with the help of common aspirin.
Although the study is in the very preliminary stages, scientists are enthusiastic about the potential outcome. Leading scientist Professor Mark Nelson, from Hobart’s Menzies Research Institute, hopes to discover a much simpler way to disease prevention. Seeking medical council, and prescriptions can be quite costly especially for those without medical insurance. If the results are conclusive then it is possible that people over the age of 70 could be able to cheaply and easily go to the drug store and purchase aspirin rather than having to go through the expensive drug plan process.
The 15,000 people aged over 70 will be a part of the most extensive study that has ever been conducted monitoring aspirin as it relates to the prevention of cancer and dementia. Research is expected to begin in the summer of 2014 with results potentially as early as 2018. Similar studies have been conducted on a much smaller scale and have so far been inconclusive. By using a larger group of patients to observe, scientists are hoping they will be able to get a better perspective on the impacts of the pill.
The idea comes from already witnessed statistics from users that take aspirin to prevent coronary disease, heart-attack and stroke. Patients that already participate in the one-a-day regime tend to have a decreased occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease, one of the main forms of dementia. Just as with the other diseases, the benefits of the pill come from its ability to thin the blood. The increased blood flow is exactly what researchers suspect is keeping fresh oxygen and nutrients going to the brain, consequently inhibiting the chances of parts of it dying off with age.
However, Nelson warns people that this is still not a risk-free medication. The irony of aspirin is that, if taken incorrectly, it can also cause too much blood flow and result in stroke from that as well. Additionally, there have been many cases reported of bleeding into the stomach, once again from the increased, thinned out blood blow. As it stands now, since the research has not been conducted, it is encouraged that only patients seeking the primary benefits of preventing heart disease and stroke use the preventative abilities of aspirin. For those people, if they reap the added benefit of delaying or preventing the on-set of dementia or stomach cancer, then that is an added bonus.
It is important that dialogue is still maintained with a physician in order to better assess on an individual basis whether the positives outweigh the risks. In the mean time the medical community waits with anticipation while studies are conducted to see if possibly diseases such as cancer and dementia could be cured by aspirin.
By Romana Outerbridge