Aspirin May Reduce the Spread of Breast Cancer

AspirinAn aspirin at least two days a week significantly reduced the risk of death from breast cancer by 64% to 71% in a recently published study from Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. 

This study included 4,164 female registered nurses diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. The use of aspirin in the first year after breast cancer diagnosis was excluded in this study since the drug is discouraged during chemotherapy.

 The dose of aspirin was not specified in the study as methodology was limited by self-reporting for aspirin intake. The researchers speculated that most regular use of aspirin is for heart disease prevention at the 81 mg/day level. 

“These are promising findings, and if they are confirmed in additional clinical trials, physicians may be able to regularly recommend aspirin to their breast cancer patients to reduce risk of cancer spread and mortality,”  wrote Lori Pierce, MD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, on behalf of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, in a prepared statement.

Previous studies have also found benefits of aspirin in relation to breast cancer. In September of 2009 the American Cancer Society wrote, “some studies have found that women who take aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen seem to have a lower risk of breast cancer. These, as well as several other drugs and dietary supplements, are being studied to see if they can lower breast cancer risk, although none are approved for reducing breast cancer risk at this time.”

Daily aspirin therapy is also thought to help lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in certain people, but it isn’t appropriate for everyone. Doctors often recommend daily aspirin therapy in some people who’ve had a heart attack or stroke, or who are at high risk of either.

It’s important to note that breast cancer patients should always consult their oncologist or general physician before taking aspirin, especially during the chemotherapy, as it is often discouraged.

Anyone who wishes to start on aspirin should always consult with their physician as there are several potentially dangerous side-effects of this drug:

  1. The anticoagulant effect of aspirin may increase the chance of serious bleeding in some people. Therefore, aspirin should be used for its preventive anticoagulant effects only when your doctor decides, after studying your medical condition and history, that the danger of blood clots is greater than the risk of bleeding.
  2. Aspirin can irritate the stomach or cause GI bleeding. Aspirin should always be taken with food, preferably after a meal due to its potential for stomach irritation and GI bleeding.
  3. Aspirin is also contraindicated in: people with allergy to aspirin or NSAIDs (Advil, Motrin, Alleve, etc), 3rd trimester pregnancy. Precautions: History of asthma or peptic ulcer, severe hepatic (liver) or renal (kidney) dysfunction, bleeding disorders, diabetes, gout, pregnancy or nursing mothers. Aspirin interacts with many medicines. For more contraindications and a list of drugs that interact with aspirin, click here
  4. Children and teen-agers suffering from flu-like symptoms, chickenpox and other viral illnesses shouldn’t take aspirin or aspirin products (acetylsalicylic acid / salicylates) because of the possibility of a deadly disease called Reye’s syndrome.

Source: “Aspirin Benefit Seen in Established Breast Cancer”, MedPage Today, February 16, 2010

Source: Holmes MD, et al “Aspirin intake and survival after breast cancer” J Clin Oncol 2010; DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2009.22.7918. 

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2 Responses to “Aspirin May Reduce the Spread of Breast Cancer”

  1. Of the total, 196 were taking aspirin, 58 were taking Coumadin, and 24 were on Plavix. The other men weren’t taking any anti-clotting medication. About four years after they were treated, cancer recurred in only 9% of men taking an anti-clotting medication, compared with 22% of those who weren’t taking the drugs. After taking into account other risk factors for recurrence, taking an anti-clotting medication was associated with a 46% lower risk of recurrence, Choe says.

    The benefit was most pronounced in men with high-risk aggressive cancers that had not yet spread at the time of radiation treatment. In this group, cancer recurred in 18% of men on anticoagulants vs. 42% of men not taking the drugs.

  2. I am totally agree with your oppinion.this blog post is very encouraging to people who want to know these topics.

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