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Aspirin 'may halve death risk from breast cancer'

Aspirin may halve the risk of death from breast cancer in women who have had early treatment for the disease, researchers have found.

The effect was revealed in an analysis of a study of 238,000 nurses in the US for more than 30 years. It is the first time aspirin has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of death from breast cancer in women who have already been treated for the disease.

Michelle Holmes, of Harvard Medical School, which led the study, said: "If these findings are confirmed in other clinical trials, taking aspirin may become another simple, low-cost and relatively safe tool to help women with breast cancer live longer, healthier lives."

Previous studies have suggested aspirin has a protective effect against breast cancer, as well as at least two other types of cancer: prostate and colon.



INFLAMMATION

Researchers on the latest study say it is not clear how it affects cancer cells but it may curb the spread of the disease by reducing inflammation.

The results showed that in addition to halving the risk of death, it also reduces metastases -- spread of the cancer to other areas of the body -- by a similar margin. Laboratory studies indicate that aspirin reduces the growth and invasiveness of breast cancer cells.

Of the 4,164 women in the study who had been treated for breast cancer between 1976 and 2002, 400 had developed metastases and 341 had died.

Women who took aspirin two to five days a week had a 71pc lower risk of dying from breast cancer and they also had a 60pc reduced chance of the cancer spreading.

The study's authors warn women not to take aspirin during treatment for breast cancer, because of the risk of potential interactions that can increase side-effects.

Aspirin can also cause stomach irritation and bleeding, which can be serious and lead to long-term problems such as ulcers.

hnews@herald.ie


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