Aspirin and Breast Cancer

Potentially Life Saving Information for Breast Cancer Patients:

Can taking one regular strength (325mg) aspirin tablet per day save your life?

Maybe.

Two articles that have been recently published say that some women can cut their risk of getting breast cancer or dying after being diagnosed with breast cancer by taking an aspirin a day. Both of these articles were published in the magazines that doctors read. So, you have to believe that they might be telling the truth.

The first article was published in THE JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY. It’s title is ‘Aspirin Intake and Survival After Breast Cancer’, and it was written by a team of researches from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 

OK, they have my attention. These are places where very smart people work.

In their article they say that their studies show them that women who have  been diagnosed with Stage I, II, or III Breast Cancer – and who have lived a year after diagnosis – can cut their risk of dying and the risk of their cancers spreading to other sites by more than 50%.  And – it didn’t seem to matter what stage the cancer was, whether the woman had gone through menopause or not, how thin or heavy set they were, or whether their tumors were estrogen receptor sensitive or not.

That’s HUGE information!!!

The article is not available for free, but I’m sure your local librarian or a librarian at a major hospital or university library will  be able to help you get a copy that you can read and give to your Doctor without your having to pay for it. Just tell them you’re looking for the journal article titled ‘Aspirin Intake and Survival After Breast Cancer’ written by Michelle D. Holmes et. al. and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Tell them it was published ahead of print on Feb 16, 2010. They will know how to find it.

The second article was published in JAMA – The Journal of the American Medical Association – in May of 2004. It’s available free of charge from the JAMA website at http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/291/20/2433 . The website will probably tell you you’re not a subscriber. I just clicked on my back arrow and the article showed up. If that doesn’t work for you do a google search for ‘ mary beth terry jama breast cancer ‘. Or, you can get a copy from one of the librarian sources I listed above for the other article.

ANYWAY – The title of this article is ‘Association of Frequency and Duration of Aspirin Use and Hormone Receptor Status With Breast Cancer Risk’ and – as I said above – it was published in JAMA. The authors are Mary Beth Terry et. al. and they come from Columbia University, the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, Cornell University, and the Strang Cancer Prevention Center. (hope I didn’t miss anyone) Ditto on the smart people comment above.

The authors of this article say that they saw around a 20% reduction in cancer cases when patients were taking aspirin every day. They also saw around a 15% reduction in risk with daily ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, and other brand names) use. This study did not find a reduction in cancer prevention rates unless the breast cancer was estrogen receptor positive.

Please get copies of these articles – or print out a copy of this blog note – and talk to your Physician about them and whether you should be taking an aspirin a day or not.

As always, Do NOT start taking aspirin or any other medication without talking to your Physician and getting his OK.

I’m a pharmacist – not a doctor – and am providing information that I think is important for you to talk to your doctor about.

I am NOT recommending that you take these medications without your physicians’ OK!!!

There are some people who absolutely should not be taking Aspirin, Ibuprofen, or any other NSAID medication – So make sure your Doctor agrees it is safe before you start.

oh yeah…. in case you didn’t know – et. al. is used by geeks who read journal articles when they’re too lazy to write out the names of all the authors who were listed for the article they’re referencing. don’t be intimidated. you have all the information you need to get a copy of the article so that your doctor or other health care provider can read it. and, when you get a copy don’t let the techno-jargon intimidate you. you don’t have to know it. your doctor will know how to read and interpret it. the most important information is usually contained in a summary section at the first of the article anyway.

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