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Over-the-counter pain relievers effective in protecting against breast cancer

Philadelphia, PA Regular use of ibuprofen and aspirin inhibits the formation and growth of breast cancer, according to data published in the Proceedings for the 94th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). The data, taken from the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study, concluded that weekly doses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) had a significant effect in reducing the risk of breast cancer.

"These results suggest that even women at high risk for breast cancer may be protected by taking NSAIDs," explains Randall Harris, M.D., Ph.D., lead investigator of the study, professor of the division of epidemiology and biometrics at the Ohio State University. "However, before usage guidelines for NSAIDs can be implemented, additional studies are needed."

This study found that women taking two or more NSAIDs per week (considered regularly) for five to nine years reduced their risk of breast cancer by 21 percent. Extending the use to ten or more years resulted in an even greater reduction of 28 percent. The probability of developing breast cancer was estimated and adjusted for age and other breast cancer risk factors (e.g. body mass, estrogen use, family history, and exercise). Researchers observed that ibuprofen was more effective than aspirin in preventing breast cancer (49 percent vs. 21 percent). Regular use of low-dose aspirin (<100 mg) had no effect.

The goal of chemoprevention for breast and other cancers is to identify or develop specifically-targeted agents with minimal toxicity that will delay, block, or reverse cancer development. Early epidemiologic investigations have shown that NSAIDs potentially limit breast cancer development, and preclinical studies have supported this finding by showing that they limit the growth of tumors in the breast. The primary mechanism of action of these drugs is the inhibition of COX-2, which is over-expressed
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Contact: Aimee Frank
202-955-6222
American Association for Cancer Research
8-Apr-2003


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