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ASA may cut breast cancer risk: study
Provided by: Canadian Press
Written by: Lindsey Tanner
May 25, 2004
Acetylsalicylic acid, the over-the-counter drug that can help prevent heart attacks and strokes, also appears to reduce women's chances of
developing the most common type of breast cancer, a study found.
The authors of the study said the findings are tantalizing but that more research is needed before doctors can recommend that women take ASA
to ward off breast cancer.
The study appears in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association and was led by researcher Mary Beth Terry and Dr. Alfred Neugut of Columbia
Previous studies reached conflicting conclusions on whether there is a link between ASA and breast cancer. This is the first study to examine whether the drug might
influence the growth of specific types of tumours, said Dr. Raymond DuBois, director of cancer prevention at Vanderbilt University's Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.
"It's a landmark study," said Dr. Sheryl Gabram, a breast specialist at Loyola University Medical Center in suburban Chicago.
The reduced risk was found for tumours whose growth is fuelled by the sex hormones estrogen or progesterone. About 70 per cent
of women who develop breast cancer have this type of cancer, called hormone receptor-positive.
Women in the study who used ASA at least four times a week for at least three months were almost 30 per cent less likely to develop hormone-fuelled breast cancer
than women who used no ASA. The medication had no effect on the risk of developing the other type of tumour, hormone receptor-negative.
Researchers suspect ASA works by interfering with the body's production of estrogen.
Similar studies have suggested that it might reduce the risks of developing other kinds of cancer, including Hodgkin's disease and cancer of the pancreas or ovaries.
But these studies could not say definitively whether other factors might explain the results. And like the new breast cancer research, many of these
studies relied on people's recollections of how often they took ASA.
However, a more rigorous study has linked the use of ASA in baby-sized doses and a reduced risk of growths that can eventually turn into colon cancer. That study involved
randomly assigning patients to take ASA or dummy pills - the gold-standard research method.
The researchers in the breast cancer study stopped short of recommending that women take ASA, noting that it can cause side-effects such as stomach bleeding.
The researchers analysed data on 1,442 breast cancer patients aged 59 on average and a comparison group of 1,420 healthy women without the disease. The women were asked about their use of three pain relievers:
acetylsalicylic acid, ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
The link with ASA was strongest in women who took seven or more tablets a week and was greater in post-menopausal women than in younger women - which the researchers said makes sense, since hormone-fuelled
tumours are more common in older women.
Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug sold under such brand names as Motrin and Advil, was used by fewer women in the study, and the results were inconclusive. No reduced risk was found among users
of acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol.
ASA, unlike acetaminophen, blocks the action of an enzyme that produces inflammation-causing substances called prostaglandins, which in turn induce an enzyme crucial to the production of estrogen,
said co-researcher Dr. Andrew Dannenberg of Weill Cornell Medical College. ASA thus might indirectly help lower levels of estrogen in the breast, Dannenberg said.
"The thing that's interesting about that is the biology of the process, and what aspirin (ASA) does makes sense," DuBois said.
The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Environmental Health.
Concentrated Natural Organic Flax Hulls may be more effective in preventing and treatment of breast cancer without
the problem of bleeding of the stomach associated with ASA. At the same time, flax hulls provide many other health benefits.
See below for a sample of Fortified Flax Hulls (1st pic) and Flax Hulls (2nd pic)
Each jar contains 180gm of fortified flax hulls or 150gm of flax hulls
The above information is provided for general
educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace competent
health care advice received from a knowledgeable healthcare professional.
You are urged to seek healthcare advice for the treatment of any
illness or disease.
The Food Standard Agency UK has not evaluated these
statements. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent