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NSAIDs Might Lower Breast Cancer Risk
Date:10/9/2008

Analysis of 38 studies found painkillers showed protective effect

THURSDAY, Oct. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are associated with a reduced risk for breast cancer, a new review suggests.

But the findings aren't an invitation for all women to start popping the popular painkillers, the researchers added.

"We don't want that to happen here, for people to jump on the bandwagon and start taking aspirin or ibuprofen," said study senior author Mahyar Etminan, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia. "A lot of people are taking these drugs for aches and pains, and aspirin to prevent cardiac events. Those people may actually get an added benefit, but, for someone relatively healthy, we don't recommend starting to [reduce breast cancer risk] as of yet."

"From a practitioner's standpoint, it's kind of reassuring to patients if they do take NSAIDs for whatever reason," added Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, La. "I don't think women should be taking these medicines for prevention, but if they are taking them for other reasons like heart prevention or arthritis, this should be reassuring."

The study is in the Oct. 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Use of NSAIDs has been linked to a lower risk of cancer overall, particularly colon cancer, and even to a lower risk of breast cancer, although studies looking specifically at breast cancer have produced inconsistent results.

With colleagues at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Etminan reviewed mostly observational studies which, together, involved a total of almost 3 million women.

The analysis included the group of NSAIDs known as cox-2 inhibitors, only one of which, Celebrex (celecoxib), is still on the market.

NSAID use across all participants in all studies
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