While aspirin is best known for the treatment of headaches and in low doses for its heart health benefits, research also suggests that regular aspirin use might have cancer fighting properties. As I mentioned in an earlier blog , aspirin use by breast cancer patients reduced their risk of breast cancer recurrence and reduced their risk of dying from breast cancer. Previous research has also reported that regular aspirin use might reduce the risk of ever developing breast cancer. However, it is unclear whether the cancer fighting benefits of regular aspirin use is altered by the breast cancer tumor's hormone receptor status.
In a new breast cancer study published online ahead of print in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, breast cancer researchers examined the possible link between regular aspirin use and breast cancer risk and investigated possible differences based on estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) status. For this study, the breast cancer researchers analyzed information from over 26,000 postmenopausal women who reported aspirin use or non-use on a mailed questionnaire. Over about a 13-year follow-up period, nearly 1,600 of the survey responders developed breast cancer. Analysis of the possible link between aspirin use and breast cancer risk showed that
Women who regularly consumed aspirin had about a 20% lower risk for breast cancer.
Consumption of aspirin 6 or more times per week was linked to about a 29% lower breast cancer risk.
Breast cancer risk was reduced independently of hormone receptor status with breast cancer risk reduced by about 23% with ER+ status, 22% with ER- status, 21% with PR+ status, and 27% with PR- status.
The use of other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs was not tied to a reduction in breast cancer risk.
This is very positive information that adds to the growing literature that regular low-dose aspirin use might help in the fight against breast cancer. While aspirin is best known for it use in the treatment of headaches and other aches and pains, its anti-inflammatory properties have led to the exploration of aspirin's possible benefits for various chronic health conditions linked to inflammation. This has resulted in the recommendation of regular use of low-dose aspirin for heart health and might one day lead to the recommendation of aspirin for other indications. The possible breast cancer benefits of aspirin appear to be related to both its anti-inflammatory actions as well as its reported ability to possibly lower estrogen levels. Continued research into the possible cancer fighting benefits of aspirin will one day provide a clearer picture regarding both its effectiveness and safe levels of use.