Low-doses of the painkiller helps to reduce the amount of oestrogen in the body. Having high levels of this hormone is known to fuel the growth of cancerous cells. It also reduces inflammation, which can damage DNA and can lead to cancer. The findings back up previous evidence which shows similar cancer benefits.
Taking aspirin three times a week reduces the risk of breast cancer by 16 per cent, a new study suggests. Low-doses of the painkiller helps to reduce the amount of oestrogen in the body – which can fuel the disease, scientists claim. The findings back up a host of research which has showed the over-the-counter pills are beneficial in preventing many forms of cancer.
Low-doses of the painkiller helps to reduce the amount of oestrogen in the body – which can fuel the disease, scientists claim Aspirin, which costs less than 2p a tablet to make, has long been known to be an aromatase inhibitor – which blocks androgen being turned into oestrogen. Women sufferers of breast cancer are often given stronger versions of these drugs to reduce the amount of the female hormone circulating in their blood.
The pill also helps to reduce inflammation, which can damage DNA and leads to various forms of the disease. Scientists at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California believe the drugs may even help to improve the prognosis’ of terminal patients. For the study, the team of researchers used data of 57,164 women who were monitored between 2005 and 2013. Lead author Dr Christina Clarke said: ‘The study found an interesting protective association between low-dose aspirin and breast cancer.’
WHAT ABOUT OTHER FORMS OF CANCER?
Taking just a quarter of an aspirin tablet a day could slash the risk of bowel cancer by a fifth, a major study concluded last March. Harvard scientists found middle-aged people who regularly took the painkillers were less likely to be diagnosed with cancer of any kind. They found the cheap pills, which cost less than 2p per tablet, are particularly effective at warding off cancers of the digestive system.
The most dramatic impact was seen for bowel cancer, with people who took aspirin every day for six years seeing their risk drop by 19 per cent. The experts, who tracked 136,000 people for 32 years, predicted that regular aspirin use in the US could prevent 30,000 tumours a year. Participants were quizzed regarding family history of cancer and other conditions and their use of aspirin and other drugs. Other known risk factors including a lack of physical activity, poor dietary habits and heavy alcohol use were also assessed.
Over the eight year period, 1,457 women went onto develop invasive breast cancer, according to the study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research. Thousands of people are also known to take them for their preventative benefits of other illnesses, such as heart disease. But recent evidence suggests they may also cause bleeding in the stomach and, in rare cases, bleeds in the brain that actually lead to strokes.
Studies have also shown aspirin is far less effective than other less risky blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin, rivaroxaban and apixaban. However, the researchers said more studies are needed to understand the full benefits, or risks, of taking low-dose aspirin. Emma Shields, Cancer Research UK’s health information officer, said: ‘Taking aspirin regularly could reduce the risk of some types of cancer, including bowel cancer and potentially breast cancer.
‘But it’s still unclear at what age people should start and stop taking aspirin, what dose they should take, and who might experience side effects. ‘Aspirin can cause serious side effects including life-threatening strokes, so it’s important for anyone thinking about taking aspirin regularly to talk to their GP first.’ In 2014, 55,222 cases of invasive breast cancer were reported in Britain, according to Cancer Research UK.