Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Ancient aspirin full of new wonders

Aspirin, the old standby for headaches, fevers and aching joints, is now widely used in the fight against cardiovascular disease and looks like a good bet to stave off colon, prostate and pancreatic cancer and, perhaps, cancers of the esophagus, stomach and rectum.

Although the old medical advice, "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning" is often offered in jest, aspirin helps provide relief for most of the things that ail you, which helps account for the fact that 29 billion aspirin tablets are taken each year in this country.

Medical research during the past 10 years indicates that aspirin, an anti-inflammatory and blood-thinning drug, can help protect against anything that in any way involves the production of prostaglandins, chemicals responsible for fever, swelling and pain.

Scientists aren't sure exactly how aspirin may help prevent cancer, but they theorize it is the result of limiting the production of prostaglandins.

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