Risk of death, recurrence halved for those who took it, study finds
TUESDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- A new study of more than 4,000 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer shows that taking aspirin appears to significantly increase survival and reduce the risk of recurrence.
"Women who took aspirin were 50 percent less likely to die from breast cancer [during the study follow-up period] than those who did not take it," said study author Dr. Michelle Holmes, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard Medical School and School of Public Health, in Boston.
The study is published online Feb. 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The 50 percent reduction is the overall finding when comparing to users to nonusers, she said. "Statistically, the women who took it more days per week had a higher risk reduction," Holmes noted. For instance, those who took it six to seven days a week had a 64 percent reduction in risk of death during the follow-up. For some reason, those who took aspirin two to five days a week had an even greater risk reduction, 71 percent, Holmes found.
But the most important finding, in her view, was the overall 50 percent reduction. She didn't have access to doses, just number of days a week the women took aspirin, she noted.
Aspirin use also reduced the risk of recurrence of the cancer in similar fashion.
"It is a surprisingly strong effect," Holmes said, though she acknowledged that it was an observational study and does not establish definitive cause and effect.
Exactly how aspirin confers a risk reduction is not known, Holmes said. But the new research is in line with some previous studies. "We're appreciating more and more that cancer is an inflammatory disease, and aspirin is an anti-inflammatory," she said.
Aspirin might lower estrogens in the blood or might prevent early spread of cancer, the researchers specul
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