Cancer prevention strategies include making healthy lifestyle choices and getting tested if at risk. New research suggests that a small dose of aspirin may help prevent the formation of cancer cells and explains how.

"The benefit of aspirin may be due to its effect on blood cells called platelets, rather than acting directly on tumor cells," says senior author Owen McCarty, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at OHSU.

Platelets are tiny blood cells that help a healthy body to form clots, in order to stop the bleeding when necessary.

It seems that our blood platelets also increase the levels of a certain protein that may support cancer cells and help them to spread. This "oncoprotein" is called c-MYC.

The biological function of c-MYC is to regulate the expression of over 15 percent of all the genes of the human body. The c-MYC regulator controls the life-and-death cycle of cells, the synthesis of proteins, and the cells' metabolism.

However, research has shown that in human cancers, this oncogene is over expressed.

The researchers from this latest study explain that aspirin reduces the ability of blood platelets to raise levels of the c-MYC oncoprotein.

Craig Williams, a professor in the OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy and co-author of the study, further explains the process.

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