This Over-The-Counter Medicine Could Help Fend Off Cancer in People with Barrett’s Esophagus

According to Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard, aspirin is potentially the difference maker in preventing esophageal cancer, especially among those at high risk for the cancer.

Esophageal cancer originates in the tissues of the esophagus. The esophagus is a crucial part of the body that spans from the throat to the stomach and helps move food from the back of the throat to the stomach. Esophageal cancer begins in the tissues that line the esophagus and then eventually spreads out to the outer linings of the esophagus. There are various types of this cancer, and symptoms include painful or difficulty swallowing, poor indigestion, heartburn, bone pain, and other complications with the digestive system and process. Treatment for the cancer is limited but includes radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and surgery. To learn more about the cancer, click this link.

This news about aspirin is especially beneficial for those with Barrett’s esophagus– which is most common in people who experience longterm acid reflux– as this condition is correlated with a higher risk of patients developing the cancer. According to the research, taking a low dose of aspirin in addition to a high dose of anti-acid reflux medication is what helps reduce the risk.

In terms of numbers, it was demonstrated that patients who took the aspirin and anti-acid reflux medication combination for a minimum of 7 years were 20% less likely to be diagnosed with esophageal cancer over those who didn’t take the treatment.

Since this cancer, like many others, is very difficult to treat, this is great news for those who may suffer from it.

“We’re pleased that such a cheap and well-established medicine can prevent and, or, delay development of cancer for these patients. Our hope is that this may also offer an opportunity to prevent esophageal cancer in wider populations,” said lead author of the study, Professor Janusz Jankowski.
The fine print aspect of the treatment is that it should only be used to treat those with Barrett’s esophagus, not those with mild acid reflux.

The trial followed over 2,500 people with Barrett’s esophagus for roughly 9 years. These some 2,500 people were split into four groups. The four groups were split between high dose of treatment and low dose of treatment, with or without a low dose of aspirin.

Findings show that the most effective treatment was that of a high dose of treatment, Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) esomeprazole, combined with a low dose of aspirin, followed again by a high dose of esomeprazole.

That said, there still may be limitations for some people despite these findings. “It’s important to remember that even though you can buy it over the counter, aspirin can have serious side effects like internal bleeding, so anyone thinking of taking regular aspirin should chat to their doctor first,” said Dr. Justine Alford from Cancer Research UK.

These findings are incredibly beneficial to those who may be at risk for esophageal cancer, as this cancer is known as one with an “unmet need,” according to Cancer Research UK.

Despite this, it is still crucial to consult a healthcare professional before self-treating.

To read more about this discovery, click here.

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