MONDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Two new studies paint a complex portrait of aspirin's impact on cancer risk and mortality, with one suggesting the drug may lower the risk of dying from prostate cancer and the other seeing no significant drop in the risk for developing breast cancer.
"These were different types of studies," explained Dr. Stanley Liauw, author of the prostate cancer study and an associate professor in the department of radiation and cellular oncology at the University of Chicago Medical Center. "The breast cancer group was looking at how aspirin might affect new formations of cancer, while we looked at how it might inhibit cancer progression."
"And we're also talking about different disease sites," he added, "which may involve different pathways. So, it's possible that aspirin might affect these pathways differently."
"But there is some rationale, based on previous research, for why we might expect to see an aspirin benefit," Liauw added. "And for our study looking at prostate cancer death we actually saw a pretty dramatic effect."
Both findings are published online Aug. 27 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
The breast cancer research team, led by Dr. Xuehong Zhang, an instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, pointed out that the disease is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among American women.
With previous research suggesting that routine aspirin and/or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use reduced the risk for colon cancer (some of which was conducted by Zhang's team), the Harvard researchers set out to see whether either might have a similar impact on breast cancer.
Between 1980 and 2008, the team tracked nearly 85,000 postmenopausal women, all of whom were working as registered nurses when the study first launched.
Nearly every two years, the women completed questionnaires on th
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