Risk Reduction of Breast Cancer with Aspirin
A recent publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) noted a reduction in the risk of breast cancer in those women who used aspirin – Volume 291(20);2433-89:2010. While not the first to suggest that aspirin can help prevent breast cancer, notably, it is the first to show a significant difference that aspiring protects against certain hormonally-sensitive tumors (hormone-receptor positive breast cancers).
The investigators suspect that aspirin decreases the production of aromatase, which suppresses the production of estrogen, a hormone noted to fuel the growth of breast cancers. Many of the drugs today target decreasing the production of estrogen, and consequently inhibit aromatase. This study looked at about 3000 women on Long Island, NY, half of which with breast CA. They inquired about their use of aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen as well as risk factors such as hormone use, menopausal status, reproductive history, and family history of breast cancer.
Results showed those that used aspirin had nearly a 30% reduction in their breast cancer risk. Notably, aspiring specifically affected their risk for estrogen and progesterone positive tumors. These cancers have a better prognosis since they respond to hormonal treatments postoperatively. Ibuprofen had a minimal risk reduction and there was no appreciable reduction seen with acetaminophen. The true effect may not be noticed, since there were fewer people who took these latter drugs.
Although early to say definitively, these results show promising results.
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