NSAIDs May Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

NSAIDs reduced breast cancer recurrence in obese and overweight women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Overweight or obese women may be less likely to see their hormone-related breast cancer return if they take a common over-the-counter medication.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) significantly cut the risk of cancer recurrence in a recent study.

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This study was conducted by Linda deGraffenried, PhD, at the University of Texas in Austin, and colleagues.

The researchers included 440 women diagnosed with invasive estrogen-positive breast cancer in their study.

The postmenopausal women went to San Antonio, TX, clinics between 1997 and 2011. They were followed for an average of seven years.

More than half the women (58.5 percent) were obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. Another 25.8 percent of women were overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9). The remaining 15.7 percent were normal weight.

The study authors looked at whether the women were taking medication and found that many were taking statin drugs and omega-3 fatty acids, but many also reported taking daily NSAIDs.

There were 281 women who did not take NSAIDs, and 159 who did. Those who did most often said they took aspirin (81 percent), while 19 percent took another kind of NSAID.

The researchers found that, among women who were overweight or obese and taking regular NSAIDs, the recurrence rate for their breast cancer was 52 percent lower than for the women who were overweight or obese and not taking daily NSAIDs.

This was true even when the researchers factored in statin and omega-3 fatty acid use, which are also known to reduce inflammation.

NSAID users remained disease-free for an average of 78.5 months, compared with 50.6 months among women who did not take regular NSAIDs.

The study authors did not mean to focus on women who were overweight but found there were too few women who were normal weight in their study. This was not a surprise to the study authors, as women with excess weight are more likely to develop estrogen-positive breast cancer, they noted. People who are overweight often have more tissue inflammation, which is why reducing the inflammation through NSAID-use may lead to improved outcomes, the researchers suggested.

In a separate analysis, the authors took blood from 25 women who had breast cancer and found that blood from obese women had pathways that supported an environment for more aggressive cancer to grow.

The study authors noted that they did not know whether the women took NSAIDs before the study period started, or even the dosage they took throughout the study.

They concluded that further studies of overweight postmenopausal women and anti-inflammatory use in women who have estrogen-positive cancer is warranted.

“This study adds to the growing body of evidence that NSAID use may offer some benefits among women with breast cancer,” said Dr. Graham Colditz, epidemiologist and associate director of prevention and control at the Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis, MO., in an interview with dailyRx News. “Further research in larger studies will refine the subgroups for whom the benefits are clear. These and other studies are promising in terms of potential reductions in breast cancer recurrence with regular NSAID use.”

This study was published Aug. 14 in Cancer Research.

The authors did not disclose any conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
August 13, 2014
Last Updated:
August 15, 2014