Aspirin May Reduce Deaths after Treatment for Breast Cancer

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A study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reported that “aspirin can significantly reduce the risk of cancer spread and death in women who have been treated for early breast cancer.” Researchers at Harvard Medical School studied 4,164 female registered nurses taking part in the Nurses’ Health Study. Starting in 1976 they looked at who took aspirin, who developed breast cancer and all causes of death up until 2006. During this time 341 nurses died of breast cancer. Of this group women who took aspirin two to five days a week had a 60% reduced risk of their cancer spreading and a 71% lower risk of breast cancer death. Other non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) in the same class as aspirin had the same effect and included ibuprofen and naproxen but not acetaminophen. This relationship was not as clear because of limited data. Although aspirin is relatively benign compared with chemotherapy drugs it can cause bleeding and should not be taken without medical supervision. It also should not be taken while undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy because of the possible side effects.

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