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Aspirin May Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer

Miracle drug?

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Updated May 26, 2004

A study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) indicates that regular use of Aspirin may have yet another health benefit. It has been shown to be very beneficial in preventing a second heart attack if a low dose is taken daily. It can also be used during a heart attack to help limit damage to the heart muscle. Other studies over the last few years have shown it to be helpful in prevention of colon cancer.

Researchers found that study participants who reported regular use of Aspirin (at least once weekly) showed a 20% lower incidence of breast cancer. For those participants who took Aspirin more often (daily) had a higher incidence of lessened risk at 28%. Another NSAID, Ibuprofen also appears to lower risk though at a lower percentage than Aspirin. Tylenol (acetaminophen) does not appear to affect breast cancer development.

Experts suspect that Aspirin which is a COX inhibitor treats and controls cancer by stopping angiogenesis, the process by which tumors grow and sustain their own blood vessels ("angio" means vessels, and "genesis" means growth). Angiogenesis is a complex process during which tumors rely on an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). They reason that these drugs block this enzyme, preventing the growth of the blood vessels necessary for tumor growth.

Aspirin is not without risk; it can cause ulceration and bleeding of the intestinal tract and may interact with other medications leading to serious health conditions. Check with your doctor before taking this drug.

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