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The blood thinner drug warfarin used to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke may help reduce the risk of cancer, especially in people 50 and older.According to the researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway, the risk reduction of all cancers due to this particular drug can go as high as 16 percent.
Warfarin is an anticoagulant or blood thinner that reduces the formation of blood clots.It is used by doctors to prevent or treat blood clots in veins or arteries.Doing so reduces the risk of stroke, heart attack, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and other diseases associated with blood clotting.The drug works by suppressing the vitamin K production of the body that is required to form blood clots.
In relation to cancer, warfarin has been suggested to be capable of blocking the AXL receptor tyrosine kinase by inhibiting Gas6, a vitamin K-dependent protein.This potentially stops the spread of cancer cells in the body.
"We hypothesized that the molecular mechanism underlying its antitumor activity is unrelated to its effect on coagulation, but is due to inhibition of the AXL receptor tyrosine kinase on tumor cells.Activation of AXL by its ligand Gas6, a vitamin K-dependent protein, is inhibited at doses of warfarin that do not affect coagulation," stated researchers in a study published in 2015.
In the latest study from Norway, the researchers used the data from the Norwegian National Registry, the Norwegian Prescription Database, and the Cancer Registry of Norway.The collected data comprised 1,256,725 individuals, more than half of whom were females born between January 1924 and December 1954.They gathered information on the participants' use of warfarin from January 2004 to December 2012.They assessed the cancer incidence on the participants from January 2006 to December 2012.There were 92,942 participants taking warfarin.
It was here that the 16 percent reduction rate was discovered by the researchers on all cancer types among participants who used warfarin.Furthermore, the study also found reduction rates on organ-specific cancer types.
- Risk of prostate cancer was reduced by 31 percent.
- Risk of lung cancer was reduced by 20 percent.
- Risk of breast cancer was reduced by 10 percent.
- The participants who were prescribed the drug for atrial flutter or atrial fibrillation also had a reduced risk to develop breast, colorectal, lung, and prostate cancers.
"Our data indicate that warfarin provides a possible cancer protection, a finding that may have important implications for choosing medications for patients who need anticoagulation," said Dr.James B.Lorens at the Department of Biomedicine at Bergen University.
However, the researchers implicated that the study is observational and they were unable to prove cause and effect.The study also had several limitations, such as no information gathered about the participants' use of other medications, and details about risk factors like smoking, diet, and weight.
Precaution about Warfarin Use
Warfarin is specially designed to reduce blood clots.Any physical conditions or processes in your body associated with blood clots may cause unfavorable reactions upon taking warfarin.You should never take warfarin if you have an allergy to it, very high blood pressure, had or will have any surgeries or underwent a spinal tap.Any bleeding conditions, such as blood cell disorder, stomach ulcers, bleeding in the intestines, lungs or urinary tract, an aneurysm or bleeding in the brain, and infection in the heart lining will have a negative interaction with warfarin.Warfarin can also make you bleed easily because it inhibits blood clots.
Side effects of warfarin use include hives from an allergic reaction, sudden headache, unusual bruising, nosebleed, bleeding wounds, heavy menstrual period, blood in urine or stool, and coughing or vomiting blood.If you encounter any of these side effects, seek medical attention immediately.
Discuss with your doctor if you have diabetes, congestive heart failure, liver or kidney disease, a hereditary clotting disorder or after receiving heparin to ensure your safety in using warfarin.Photo By Gonegonegone via Wikimedia Commons
Contraindication of Warfarin
Certain medications interact with warfarin including aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, celecoxib, diclofenac, and meloxicam.These drugs may affect blood clotting, and taking them with warfarin may increase the risk of stomach bleeding.If you are taking any medications for whatever reason, prescribed or not, tell your physician to avoid bleeding risk with warfarin.
- An estimated 17 million deaths are caused by cardiovascular diseases and a significant number of these deaths have been associated with smoking, according to the World Health Organization.
- Out of the 17 million deaths, about 7.4 million were due to coronary heart disease and about 6.7 million were due to brain stroke.
- One out of every 1,000 adults develops venous thrombosis that includes deep vein -thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, according to a study in April 2007.
- The incident rate of pulmonary embolism is 60 to 70 per 100,000 persons, according to a research in 2013.
- Warfarin has been prescribed nearly 35 million times in 2010.In the same year, warfarin was the 14th most prescribed medication of its kind.
- Recent data showed that warfarin has been prescribed more than 23 million times in 2014.