Daily Aspirin May Help Fight Prostate Cancer, But Not Breast Cancer

Studies showed 57% reduction in death risk with first, no benefit with second

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Two experts who wrote an accompanying editorial in the journal suggested that aspirin might make a difference among very specific subgroups of people.

"When looking at aspirin's impact on breast cancer risk, looking at all-comers and including all sorts of people who take anti-inflammatory drugs for all sorts of reasons might miss the kernel," said editorial lead author Dr. Clifford Hudis, chief of the breast cancer medicine service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in New York City. "That is to say that there may very well be a subset of people for whom taking aspirin can be of protective benefit "

"But," he added, "the answer always is and remains that you should talk to your doctor about this before deciding to take or not take anything, including aspirin, because none of these studies prove anything definitively one way or another."

Editorial co-author Dr. Andrew Dannenberg, director of the Weill Cornell Cancer Center, agreed.

"It continues to seem to me that aspirin does have a use for reducing the risk for certain cancers," he said. "However, aspirin also has side effects -- peptic ulcer disease and hemorrhagic stroke, which are real diseases. And therefore I'm still reluctant at this time to make specific recommendations that people take aspirin for the prevention for cancer. And I believe that prospective trials that better define dose and duration are required before anyone should make definitive recommendations for the use of aspirin in this context."

More information

For more on aspirin and cancer, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

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