Breast cancer claim met with caution

03/11/2008

A UK STUDY has suggested that taking an aspirin a day could protect women against breast cancer.

The meta-analysis of studies conducted by different groups of researchers has linked the painkiller to a 13% fall in rates of the disease.

But the island’s lead cancer nurse, Karen Leach, said the findings in the study merely identified an association between aspirin consumption and breast cancer risk.

‘It does not prove that taking aspirin can reduce breast cancer,’ she said.
It was conducted over a 40-year period and has been called the biggest medical review of its kind.

The objective was to determine whether there was an association between frequency and duration of aspirin use and the risk of breast cancer.  

‘The studies did not specifically look at the action of aspirin in the prevention of breast cancer but the use by women of aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,’ said Mrs Leach.

‘Aspirin belongs to the class of NSAIDs which are said to be good for relieving bone and muscle pain, but side-effects can include gastro-intestinal bleeding and stomach ulcers. It should therefore not be taken in large doses, or for long periods of time, without proper medical advice.’

Mrs Leach did, however, think the findings were interesting.
‘The findings should provide the basis for further investigations into the possible benefit of taking aspirin to prevent breast cancer,’ she said.

She was keen to point out that early detection was the key.
‘We encourage women to be breast aware and to participate in the breast screening programme if aged over 50.’


GEP Article by Anna Brehaut

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