New research has shown that aspirin can have an impact on the risk of developing breast cancer in overweight women. Doctors are just finding out that the risks of breast cancer for women are related to weight. Specifically, the more obese a person is, the higher their risk of getting breast cancer and the harder it is to overcome the disease.
However, new studies have shown that a simple drug may be able to counteract these additional risks. The study, which was conducted at the University of Texas in Austin, uncovered that aspirin taken regularly can cut the increased risk in overweight women by as much as 50 percent.
"Obesity by itself is the worst prognostic factor," Linda deGraffenried, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, told Time Magazine. "Obese women do worse on hormone therapy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. We used to think that the mechanism involved the fact that they had [other] conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, but now we are starting to appreciate that the obese patient has a different biological disease."
In the study published in the journal Cancer Research, women with a higher body mass index who took nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin reduced their risk of getting additional tumors by 52 percent, compared to women who didn't take aspirin. Researchers were surprised to learn just how much anti-inflammatory drugs could benefit women.
Who has a higher risk of breast cancer?
The reason that aspirin may have such an effect for overweight women is because more fat tissue encourages the production of the enzyme aromatase, which is involved in producing estradiol, a form of estrogen. Higher amount of estrogen are known to increase the risk of developing breast cancer, as is elevated levels of aromatase. Furthermore, fat tissue releases other factors in the body that can improve tumor survival. This means that the cancer can continue growing in women with a higher body mass index.
In the past, most doctors might have said that lowering the BMI was the only way for an overweight woman to reduce her risk for breast cancer, but now the recommended course of action may include taking aspirin.
Other health benefits of aspirin
Heart attack survivors have likely been told to take aspirin for heart health, and it's often the first step taken to prevent further injury when a heart attack begins. Aspirin has often been called a miracle drug because of its ability to prevent heart attacks and strokes from clogged arteries. Those at a higher risk of heart attack can benefit from a daily or regular low dose of the drug.
However, not everyone should take aspirin on a daily basis. Unless you have heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or have survived a heart attack, you probably don't need to take aspirin regularly as preventive care. In general, consult your primary care physician before starting a health care regimen.
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