Can Aspirin Prevent Breast Cancer?

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN

As you probably know, October is breast cancer awareness month, an annual campaign designed to increase awareness of the disease.

Although many of the various pink-colored campaigns have done a good job reminding us of the importance of self-screening and early detection methods, very little emphasis has been given in terms of prevention.

So where do we collectively stand on this? Well, to date, we know that maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding alcohol can be protective. We also know that exercise is protective as well.1

But are there any other protective measures we can take? Below, we'll explore one that certainly shows promise.

Research Points to Aspirin for Breast Cancer Prevention

A study conducted in 2011 showed that women who took aspirin had about a 20% lower risk of breast cancer than non-users.2

In another study, breast cancer survivors who took aspirin were found to be less likely to have recurrence and die from the disease.3

These studies make us think of aspirin in a different light. No longer just a “pain reliever,” aspirin is showing potential as a breast cancer preventer.

But how exactly does a common over-the-counter pill work to prevent it?

Aspirin Stops Inflammation, a Cancer Promoter

These days, we tend to blame cancer on a number of factors in our environment, pointing to toxins, air pollution, and so forth.

Of course, there is definitely some solid evidence that points to our environment, but the reality is that something less obvious is also a big part of the problem: chronic inflammation.

Inflammation is a normal process that helps the body heal and repair itself. However, when it becomes chronic, it may cause disease and cancer.4

Aspirin blocks Cox-2, a pro-inflammatory enzyme, which is expressed in certain breast cancers.5

Cox-2 is involved in several steps of cancer development. Therefore, it’s a key enzyme to target for optimal protection.

Is Aspirin Right for You?

The research is definitely worth considering, but aspirin is not right for everybody. You should first speak to your doctor to see if it’s a good choice for you.

Aspirin might be contraindicated for certain health conditions, especially for people with bleeding disorders or those who are taking blood thinning drugs.

The Bottom Line

The reality is that about 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer at one point in their life.6

If not you yourself, chances are that somebody you know will be affected by this disease. This is why it’s so important that women take prevention very seriously.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, will you take the time to share this post with someone that you care about? We certainly hope that you will.

References:

  1. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-risk-factors. Accessed October 15, 2012.
  2. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Feb;126(1):149-55.
  3. J Clin Oncol. 2010 Mar 20;28(9):1467-72.
  4. Yale J Biol Med. 2006 December; 79(3-4): 123–130.
  5. Semin Oncol. 2004 Apr;31(2 Suppl 7):22-9.
  6. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/overviewguide/breast-cancer-overview-key-statistics. Accessed October 15, 2012.

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10 comments:

Julia Moravcsik, PhD said...

Aspirin may also interact with supplements, as many antioxidants are blood thinners. Might be nice to include some of these interactions.

Hernando Latorre said...

Hi Dr. Moravcsik, here are a couple of good links to check for interactions:

http://www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/health/ --> I have found healthnotes to be very useful when checking for depletion of nutrients caused by medications.

http://reference.medscape.com/drug-interactionchecker

Hernando Latorre, MD
@drhlatorre

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Hip Fractures Blog said...

I've been reading a lot about this wonder drug and it never ceases to amaze me. There is so much aspirin can do to us. Thanks for posting.

Life Extension said...

Hip Fractures Blog - Aspirin really is amazing. Here's a little more info on its anti-cancer benefits in case you're interested: http://ow.ly/sOxJM

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