The risk of developing cancer increases with age. Factors like smoking and regular aspirin use also affect the risk of cancer – although in the opposite sense. Researchers from the University of Basel were now able to show that aspirin use and smoking both influence aging processes of the female genome that are connected to colorectal cancer. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute has published their results.
Already in the 1990s, scientists discovered that regular use of aspirin over long periods of time decreases the cancer risk. Since then, numerous studies have confirmed the protective effect of the drug against different types of cancer. Regular aspirin use is said to reduce the risk to develop colorectal cancer by an average of 40%. However, it is unknown how exactly the drug influences the cancer risk.
Our lifestyle choices affect the aging processes of our genome which can cause cell transformation and cancer
(Fig.: Martin Oeggerli / Micronaut, in cooperation with FHNW.)
A research group led by Prof. Primo Schär, molecular geneticists at the Department of Biomedicine from the University of Basel and gastrointestinal specialist PD Dr. Kaspar Truninger, has now discovered a possible mechanism of how aspirin decreases the risk of cancer: It slows down certain aging processes of the genome - namely modifications that also play an important role in the development of tumors.
In order to analyze the relationships between lifestyle and genome aging, the researchers examined intestinal tissue samples of 546 healthy women over 50 years of age. They compared age-specific changes of gene markers, so-called DNA methylations, with the women's lifestyle factors regarding aspirin use, smoking, body mass index and hormonal replacement therapy. The most significant effects were measured for aspirin use and smoking.
“Each cell's genome resembles a library that is full of bookmarks”, explains Schär. Thanks to these bookmarks, the cells know which genes to read, so that they can fulfill their specialized tasks as skin, muscle or intestinal cells. “But these markers are not very stable and change during the course of age. If, at certain parts of the genome, the change is to drastic, tumors can develop”, says Schär.
In this study, the researchers were able to show for the first time that this age-related decay of gene markers can be slowed down by the regular use of aspirin. Smoking on the other hand, accelerates the aging process. “Especially affected are genes that also play a role in the development of cancer”, says Dr. Faiza Noreen, research associate at the Department of Biomedicine from the University of Basel and first author of the study.
Truninger emphasizes that it would be premature to start taking aspirin solely for cancer prevention without consulting a doctor first – especially when regarding the potential side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding.
Noreen F, Röösli M, Gaj P, Pietrzak J, Weis S, Urfer P, Regula J, Schär P and Truninger K.
Modulation of Age- and Cancer Associated DNA Methylation Change in the Healthy Colon by Aspirin and Lifestyle.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute published online, 2014 106 (4): dju161 doi: 10.1093/jnci/dju161
Prof. Primo Schär, Department of Biomedicine, University of Basel, phone: +41 (0)61 267 07 67, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Olivia Poisson | Universität Basel
Laboratory study: Scientists from Cologne explore a new approach to prevent newborn epilepsies
24.11.2015 | Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e.V. (DZNE)
U of T research sheds new light on mysterious fungus that has major health consequences
23.11.2015 | University of Toronto
Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.
In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...
In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.
Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...
Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...
AWI researchers’ unique 15-year observation series reveals how sensitive marine ecosystems in polar regions are to change
The warming of arctic waters in the wake of climate change is likely to produce radical changes in the marine habitats of the High North. This is indicated by...
Berkeley Lab researchers develop nanoparticles that can carry therapeutics across the brain blood barrier
Glioblastoma multiforme, a cancer of the brain also known as "octopus tumors" because of the manner in which the cancer cells extend their tendrils into...
17.11.2015 | Event News
21.10.2015 | Event News
20.10.2015 | Event News
24.11.2015 | Trade Fair News
24.11.2015 | Trade Fair News
24.11.2015 | Life Sciences