The explanation, published in the journal Cancer Research, is a bit complicated, but we can help highlight the main points.
In short, aspirin (part of a class of drugs known as NSAIDs) can help inhibit the production of certain types of estrogen. As we’ve discussed before, maintaining a healthy body weight is important when it comes to breast health. Women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of breast cancer, as well as a harder time with treatments. There are multiple factors involved, but one of the keys is estrogen.
Estrogen is part of a healthy woman’s body, but too much of certain types of it live in fatty tissues. This excess estrogen can feed tumor growth in some types of breast cancers.
Here’s where aspirin was shown to help. For breast cancer patients with a high body mass index (overweight or obese), aspirin can reduce production of a type of estrogen which can be associated with hormone-receptor positive breast cancers. Overweight breast cancer patients who consistently used aspirin had a 52% reduction in new tumors compared to women not on aspirin. In science, that’s a big number and many potential lives saved.
This great article in Time explores in-depth the types of estrogen and how they are affected by aspirin for those of you wanting more scientific information.
We’re thrilled by this exploration of yet another way aspirin can be used to treat all manner of diseases. The role of aspirin in the future treatment of breast cancer will need further investigation. For now the biggest takeaway is that there’s hope. Inch by inch, pound by pound, cell by cell, we’re finding ways to ward off breast cancer.
Image attribution: Aspirin1 by Mosesofmason via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Originally published 9/12/14 on mammographykc.com.