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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