Women at Elevated Risk of Developing Breast Cancer May Benefit From Taking Anti-inflammatory Drugs

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

Source: Mayo Clinic

Research from Mayo Clinic investigators suggest that some women with an elevated risk of developing breast cancer may benefit from taking anti-inflammatory medications.

“Several studies have evaluated whether the use of anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen affect a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer,” says Amy Degnim, M.D., a breast surgical oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, “but little is known about how use of these drugs might affect their risk after a benign breast biopsy.” Dr. Degnim says about one million women receive a diagnosis of benign breast disease annually in the U.S. and having this history increases their risk of developing breast cancer.

Researchers surveyed women who had undergone a benign breast biopsy at Mayo Clinic between 1992 and 2001, and asked them to report which types of these medications they had used and for how long. Researchers also obtained information on which women had developed breast cancer at any point in the years after their initial benign biopsy.

“We found that women who reported using ibuprofen or naproxen had an approximately 40% reduction in breast cancer risk, while women who reported using aspirin had no reduction in breast cancer risk,” says Dr. Degnim. “Women who used the drugs more frequently on a regular basis also had greater protection from breast cancer.”

Dr. Degnim says the findings suggest that women who have had a benign breast biopsy may benefit from medications that reduce inflammation, except for aspirin, in terms of reducing later breast cancer risk. She cautions that this study was not a clinical trial and she does not recommend that all women should take these medications to reduce their breast cancer risk. “Our results support the need for a clinical trial to further investigate the risks and benefits of taking these medications to lower breast cancer risk.”