Since its discovery more than 100 years ago, aspirin has been widely used for its antipyretic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-rheumatic activities. In addition to these applications, it is increasingly becoming clear that the drug also has great potential in the field of cancer. Here, we briefly review the current insights on aspirin’s anti-tumor effects. These are multiple and vary from inhibiting the major cellular mTOR pathways, acting as a calorie-restricted mimetic by inhibition of energy production, suppressing platelet aggregation and granule release, inhibiting the immune escape of tumor cells, to decreasing inflammatory responses. We consider these five mechanisms of action the most significant for aspirin’s anti-tumor effects, whereby the anti-tumor effect may ultimately stem from its inhibition of energy metabolism, platelet function, and inflammatory response. As such, aspirin can play an important role to reduce the occurrence, proliferation, and metastasis of various types of tumors. However, most of the collected data are still based on epidemiological investigations. More direct and effective evidence is needed, and the side effects of aspirin intake need to be solved before this drug can be widely applied in cancer treatment.
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