Bile duct cancer — also called cholangiocarcinoma — is an aggressive type of cancer that forms in the slender tubes (bile ducts) that carry digestive fluid through the liver.
“The evidence has been accumulating that regular, long-term use of aspirin is associated with a decreased risk of a number of different cancer types, particularly gastrointestinal cancers,” said one of the researchers, Lewis Roberts, gastroenterologist and hepatologist at Mayo Clinic in the US.
The findings showed that individuals who took aspirin had a more than a two-and-half to three-and-half times lesser chance of developing bile duct cancer, compared to individuals who did not take aspirin.
The researchers found that aspirin, with it’s an anti-inflammatory properties can decrease the risk of bile duct cancer by lessening inflammation through slowing down an enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase (COX), which is known to promote inflammation.
“We know that continuous unremitting inflammation is one of the main factors that promotes cancer of the bile ducts,” Roberts added in the paper published in the journal Hepatology.
In addition to the COX enzyme pathway, according to previous studies, aspirin also blocks additional cell-signaling cascades that promote cancer development.
However, it is not yet certain that aspirin is safe to use for cancer prevention.
The team said additional confirmatory studies are needed before aspirin can be recommended for use in preventing bile duct cancer.
Bile duct cancer occurs mostly in people over 50 and can cause symptoms, such as yellowing of the skin and eyes, intense itchiness of the skin, and white stools. It progresses quickly and is difficult to treat.