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

in most human breast cancers. Recent studies indicate that COX-2 an inducible enzyme generating prostaglandins (PG) may be implicated in several biological events throughout the process of tumor development and therefore is a potential target for preventing and possibly treating a number of cancers.

The WHI is an observational study that enrolled 80,741 post-menopausal women between 50 and 79 years of age with no reported history of any cancer, other than non-melanoma skin cancer. Each woman completed a personal interview, which collected information on their individual risk of developing breast cancer and their use of NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin. Of those enrolled, 1,392 were later diagnosed with breast cancer.

Based on WHI protocol, each participant provided an annual medical history update. Breast cancer diagnoses were confirmed by WHI physicians using pathology reports. Average follow-up was 43 months. Even after adjusting for demographics and several potential risk factors, the observed effects of long-term use of NSAIDs in reducing breast cancer risk remained stable.

The annual incidence of breast cancer in the WHI study (481 cases per 100,000) is similar to the incidence of breast cancer estimated for women over the age of 50, according to the 1998 National Cancer Institute SEER data (478 per 100,000). More than 212,600 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed and nearly 40,000 women will die in 2003, according to the American Cancer Society. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women.


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Contact: Aimee Frank
202-955-6222
American Association for Cancer Research
8-Apr-2003


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