Researchers find regular use of aspirin can lower risk of breast cancer for women

May 1, 2017
Mammograms showing a normal breast (left) and a cancerous breast (right). Credit: Wikipedia.

A City of Hope-led study found that the use of low-dose aspirin (81mg) reduces the risk of breast cancer in women who are part of the California's Teacher's Study. This study—which is the first to suggest that the reduction in risk occurs for low-dose aspirin—was proposed by City of Hope's Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., professor and director of the Division of Biomarkers of Early Detection and Prevention, and published online in the journal, Breast Cancer Research.

Bernstein and her colleagues saw an overall 16 percent lower risk of in women who reported using low-dose at least three times per week. Such regular use of low-dose aspirin reduced the risk by 20 percent of estrogen or progesterone receptor positive, HER2 negative breast cancer, which is the most common breast cancer subtype.

"The study found an interesting protective association between low-dose aspirin and breast cancer," said lead author Christina A. Clarke, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Cancer Prevention Institute of California. "We did not by and large find associations with the other pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. We also did not find associations with regular aspirin since this type of medication is taken sporadically for headaches or other pain, and not daily for prevention of cardiovascular disease."

This study differed from other studies that have looked at aspirin and cancer risk because it focused on the dose levels of the aspirin women had taken and tracked the frequency of the use of low-dose aspirin as opposed to regular aspirin. It was also able to look in detail at subtypes of breast cancer.

"We already knew that aspirin is a weak aromatase inhibitor and we treat women with breast cancer with stronger aromatase inhibitors since they reduce the amount of estrogen postmenopausal women have circulating in their blood," said Bernstein. "We thought that if aspirin can inhibit aromatase, it ought to reduce the likelihood that breast cancer would develop and it could also be an effective way to improve ' prognosis once they no longer take the more potent aromatase inhibitors." Bernstein added, "Aspirin also reduces inflammation, which may be another mechanism by which aspirin taken regularly can lower risk of breast cancer developing or recurring."

As part of the study, researchers analyzed data recorded in questionnaires submitted by 57,164 women in the California's Teacher's Study. In 2005, participants answered questions regarding family history of cancer and other conditions, use of aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), menstrual and reproductive history, use of hormones, weight and height, living environment, diet, alcohol use and physical activity. In the ensuing years before 2013, 1,457 of these participants developed .

The team of researchers chose to focus on low-dose "baby" aspirin, because not only is it inexpensive and readily available as potential means of prevention, but because there are already a lot of people already taking it for prevention of other diseases such as heart disease and even colon cancer.

Now that we have some data separating low-dose from higher-dose aspirin, more detailed research can be undertaken to understand the full value of low-dose aspirin for prevention," said Clarke."

Explore further: Can daily low-dose aspirin lower cancer death risk?

More information: Christina A. Clarke et al, Regular and low-dose aspirin, other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and prospective risk of HER2-defined breast cancer: the California Teachers Study, Breast Cancer Research (2017). DOI: 10.1186/s13058-017-0840-7

Related Stories

Can daily low-dose aspirin lower cancer death risk?

April 3, 2017
(HealthDay)—Millions of Americans take low-dose aspirin every day for heart health. In doing so, they may also slightly lower their risk of dying from several cancers, a large new study suggests.

Daily low-dose aspirin may cut pancreatic cancer risk

December 20, 2016
(HealthDay)—There's evidence that daily low-dose aspirin may decrease the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a new study.

Continued use of low-dose aspirin may lower pancreatic cancer risk

June 26, 2014
The longer a person took low-dose aspirin, the lower his or her risk for developing pancreatic cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association ...

Daily aspirin may guard against ovarian cancer

February 6, 2014
(HealthDay)—Taking aspirin every day might lower a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer by one-fifth, a new study suggests.

Recommended for you

No dye: Cancer patients' gray hair darkened on immune drugs

July 21, 2017
Cancer patients' gray hair unexpectedly turned youthfully dark while taking novel drugs, and it has doctors scratching their heads.

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.