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Aspirin Doesn't Prevent Breast Cancer

Long-Term Aspirin, Ibuprofen May Slightly Raise Risk, New Research Shows

Small Risk With Ibuprofen continued...

But again the actual risk was small. The researchers estimated that 24 of the nearly 2,400 cases of breast cancer could be due to daily ibuprofen use.

Marshall says the findings should not discourage women who are taking a daily low-dose aspirin to lower their risk of heart disease.

"I would not advise women to take these drugs to prevent breast cancer," she says. "But women who are taking them for other good reasons should not stop because of this study."

Regular or daily use of acetaminophen, which is not an anti-inflammatory drug, had no effect on breast cancer risk.

Aspirin Evidence Confusing

There have been at least 20 published studies examining the use of aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for the prevention of breast cancer and the findings have been inconsistent, says epidemiologist Michael Thun, MD, of the American Cancer Society.

One of the most widely publicized of these trials, reported a year ago this week, showed that aspirin helps protect against more common hormone receptor-positive tumors but not more aggressive hormone receptor-negative tumors.

Thun says the fact that the latest trial also found tumor type to be a factor in the response to aspirin is intriguing and deserves further study.

Taken as a whole, he adds, the research suggests only a very small protective role for aspirin and other NSAIDs against breast cancer, if any benefit exists at all. In addition to over-the-counter NSAIDs, there are more than 20 available by prescription.

"The findings with regard to colon cancer have been much more persuasive," he says. "It is clear that prolonged use of NSAIDs is associated with lower colon cancer risk. But the breast cancer trials have been less convincing."

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