While low-dose aspirin, otherwise known as baby aspirin, is used by many older Americans to potentially reduce heart attack risk, a new study suggests that it may also help prevent breast cancer.
Every year approximately 220,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The risk of getting breast cancer goes up with age, with the average diagnosis occurring at 61.
And while early detection and more effective treatments have led to improved survival rates, research is continually done on how to prevent the disease altogether. A new study published in Breast Cancer Research tracked 57,164 women, a majority of whom where over 50, who had no history of breast cancer.
Over the study period, women taking low-dose aspirin were 16 percent less likely to have developed breast cancer, compared with women who took no nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), according to the Washington Post. Additionally, these subjects were 20 percent less likely to have developed the most common type of breast cancer: hormone-receptor-positive and HER2-negative.
Researchers did not find similar links between regular-dose aspirin or other NSAIDs and the risk for breast cancer. “We suspect that our observations could relate to the pattern of daily use of low-dose aspirin for prevention, as opposed to more sporadic patterns of use to relieve pain,” they wrote.
The median age of the study participants was 61 years old, and the age breakdown was as follows:
- 3.1 percent under 40
- 12.3 percent 40-49
- 29.1 percent 50-59
- 27.6 percent 60-69
- 18.3 percent 70-79
- 8.4 percent 80-89
- 1.1 percent over 90
The authors note that the study results are intriguing and need further, “perhaps experimental, study of low-dose aspirin as a widely available, inexpensive chemopreventive option for the most common subtype of breast cancer, the HR-positive/HER2-negative subtype.”
It is also important for women to remember that there are risks associated with taking aspirin, including internal bleeding, so they should always consult their doctors before starting an aspirin regimen.