Regular Aspirin Use May Reduce Risk of Hormone-positive Breast Cancer

Regular use of aspirin may modestly reduce the risk of developing hormone-positive breast cancer. These results were recently published online by Breast Cancer Research.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are agents that help to reduce inflammation and are often taken for pain relief. Some research has indicated that NSAIDs may provide a protective effect against the development of some types of cancer; however, confirmation from these studies is necessary to truly understand this association. Aspirin is one of several NSAIDS; however, it has a slightly different mechanism of action from other NSAIDS. Many individuals take aspirin on a regular basis to reduce their risk of a stroke.

Breast cancer is one type of cancer for which research continues to explore a potential association between NSAID use and incidence. Because the mechanism through which NSAIDs work include the suppression of estrogen, researchers speculated that NSAID use may reduce the risk of hormone-positive breast cancer. Hormone-positive breast cancer, also referred to as estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer, is the most common type of breast cancer and is stimulated to grow from exposure to the female hormones estrogen and/or progesterone.

Researchers recently evaluated data from the National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study, which included 127,383 female AARP (formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons) members. Participants were aged 51 to 72 years, had no history of cancer, and completed questionnaires that included information regarding use of NSAIDS and breast cancer incidence.

  • There was no overall association between the use of NSAIDS and breast cancer.
  • Regular aspirin use reduced the risk of hormone-positive breast cancer by 16%.
  • Aspirin and other NSAID use did not demonstrate a reduced risk of hormone-negative breast cancer.
  • NSAIDS other than aspirin did not demonstrate a reduced risk of hormone-positive breast cancer.

The researchers concluded: “Breast cancer risk was not significantly associated with NSAID use, but daily aspirin use was associated with a modest reduction in ER-positive breast cancer. Our results provide support for further evaluating relationships by NSAID type and breast cancer subtype.”

Reference: Gierach G, Lacey J, Schatzkin A, et al. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and breast cancer risk in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. Breast Cancer Research [early online publication]. April 30, 2008. DOI:doi:10.1186/bcr2089.

Related News:

Aspirin Linked with Reduced Cancer Risk (4/23/2007)

Long-term Aspirin Use Lowers Cancer Death Rate in Women (3/29/2007)

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