According to a study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research this past Monday, women who regularly took a low-dose aspirin were found to have a lower risk of breast cancer.
The study employed data from over 57,000 women who were members of the California Teachers Study.
Within the study, 23% of the participants reported that they were habitual users of low-dose aspirin. Of this 23% percent of women, researchers identified a decrease of 20% in the risk of developing HR-positive/HER2 negative breast cancer.
The risk was contrariwise linked to taking a low-dose aspirin at least three times a week, as compared with the portion of the women in the study who reported having no regular low-dose aspirin use.
Women who took other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, did not observe as significant of a dissimilarity, nor did those taking a consistent high-dose aspirin. Prior studies have presented mixed results in terms of breast cancer effect upon women who took a regular high-dose aspirin.
Aspirin is widely recognized for its potential to diminish the risks of other types of cancers and cancer deaths, especially in the case of people who are at risk of colorectal cancer.
US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines advise that specific people take a low-dose aspirin on a regular basis to lessen the risk of colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, this is not a general recommendation that applies to everyone. Particularly, people with bleeding diseases like Crohn’s or ulcers should steer clear of such, as the medication can increase bleeding.
Although the latest study did not focus on the possible causes for this association between lower cancer risk and aspirin, author Leslie Bernstein, who is a professor in the Division of Cancer Etiology in the Department of Population Sciences at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, stated that one reason may be aspirin’s ability to decrease inflammation.
“Simply things like obesity or inflammatory conditions are a risk factor for breast cancer, so this may be one reason it could help,” Bernstein explained.
She also says that research has evinced that aspirin serves as an aromatase inhibitor. Breast cancer is commonly treated with medication that is a stronger form of aromatase inhibitor; it halts the production of estrogen, which can then incite the development of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer cells.
When Bernstein read about the possible inhibitor impact of aspirin, she began to question whether there would be a link to reducing breast cancer risk. Her colleague Christina Clarke started reading through the data and noticed that the association was specifically identified in this study.
“Of course, more research, including clinical trials, is needed to see if this is the case,” Bernstein added.
Nancy Cook, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard University who also researches aspirin’s influence on cancer, published a study in 2013 that culminated in the proved a reduction in colorectal cancer following 10 years of consistent low-dose aspirin use, but the study found no association with a diminution in breast cancer.
In the study done by Cook, “it is possible that the lack of effect is due to the alternate day low dose we used, but data from other randomized trials generally do not support an effect on breast cancer,” she clarified via an emailed statement. Thus, the result of the current study differs from that of Cook’s.
She also warned that prior to adding a low-dose quotidian aspirin to your morning routine, it is important to remember that the recent study is simply observational.
“That means it cannot determine cause and effect,” Cook asserted. “The meta-analyses that the authors cite are also mainly based on observational data. On the other hand, large observational studies sometimes are able to detect effects in some groups or for more rare outcomes that trials are not empowered to see, so these studies are still valuable.”
Featured Image via Wikimedia.