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Use of Aspirin Does Not Protect Against Breast Cancer

Review on November 17, 2009

Premenopause aspirin

A 2009 study by Heather A. Eliassen et al. explores the link between the progesterone hormone, breast cancer, and aspirin use by women who are still in the premenopause stage. The full title of the study is: "Use of Aspirin, Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs, and Acetaminophen and Risk of Breast Cancer Among Premenopausal Women in the Nurses' Health Study II." The progesterone hormone plays an important role in the development of some types of breast cancer for women going through premenopause. The progesterone hormone stimulates both normal and abnormal cell growth. The progesterone hormone stimulates the growth of cancer by turning on the positive receptors in cancer cells.

Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have long been use to treat common complaints such as inflammation, headaches and muscular pain for women at the premenopause stage. The use of aspirins for colon cancer and heart disease has also become increasingly widespread. Little evidence exists to support claims of aspirins protective role against breast cancer for women, whether they be in premenopause or postmenopause stage. In particular, little research has been done on whether or not aspirins have any effect on controlling the progesterone hormone in premenopause women.

The risk for breast cancer and unbalanced progesterone hormone levels among women who were still at the premenopause stage and using aspirin was assessed through the nurse's study. Overall, a little more than 110,000 women in the premenopause stage between the ages of 25 to 42 years old were assessed. 1,345 incidents of breast cancer were recorded among these premenopause women. Every two years, the study subjects were assessed for premenopause status through a questionnaire.

Menopause breast

 Aspirins/NSAIDS were thought to possibly lower their risk of breast cancer because it suppresses the cyclo-oxygenase enzyme 2 (COX-2) pathway. The inhibition/suppression may reduce the carcinogens in the body by decreasing cell proliferation. High levels of COX-2 may play a specific part in breast cancer since they have been observed in breast cancer tissue. Conversely, medication that suppresses the growth of COX-2 has been shown to reduce activity in breast cancer cells, which slows their spread. Compelling evidence in previous experimental studies led the researchers of this study to believe that there might be a possibility.

In conclusion, no inverse association existed between aspirin use and progesterone hormone imbalance and breast cancer for women going through premenopause. There was no beneficial relationship recorded between duration, dosage and frequency of aspirin use with breast cancer and progesterone hormone imbalance. In fact, contrary to expectations, modest increased risk was associated with aspirin use.


Sources:
  • ScD Eliassen, Heather A.; MD, MPH Chen, Wendy Y.; ScD Spiegelman, Donna; MD, DrPH Willett, Walter C.; MBBS, ScD Hunter, David J.; ScD Hankinson, Susan E. "Use of Aspirin, Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs, and Acetaminophen and Risk of Breast Cancer Among Premenopausal Women in the Nurses' Health Study II." Arch Intern Med. 2009.