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Aspirin May Limit Cancer for Women Who Have HIV, Scientists Say

March 2, 2012

Aspirin should be studied for its potential effect against cervical cancer in women with HIV, scientists wrote in a recent report. Their study found that HIV increases the production of prostaglandin PGE2 in cervical tissue. PGE2 is associated with inflammation and the development of tumors.

Aspirin is a strong blocker of a chemical, COX-2, that allows prostaglandins to be formed. Most cervical cancer cases are caused by human papillomavirus, and some researchers believe women with HIV and high-risk HPV are up to five times as likely to have cervical lesions that progress to cancer.

The new study was small, involving only 48 women enrolled from a clinic in Haiti. Some had HIV; some had both HIV and HPV infection; and some had neither. Levels of PGE2 were high enough to suggest a larger study to see whether low-dose aspirin for women with HIV could save lives.

The full study, "The Effect of HIV and HPV Coinfection on Cervical COX-2 Expression and Systemic Prostaglandin E2 Levels," was published in Cancer Prevention Research (2012;5:34-40).

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Excerpted from:
New York Times
02.21.2012; Donald G. McNeil Jr.

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