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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Apr;19(4):1033-41. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-09-0975. Epub 2010 Mar 23.

Analgesic use and sex steroid hormone concentrations in postmenopausal women.

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  • 1Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Prior epidemiologic studies suggest that regular use of analgesics may decrease risk of breast and ovarian cancer. We explored possible hormone-mediated mechanisms for these associations by examining the relationship between use of aspirin, nonaspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), and acetaminophen and sex steroid hormone concentrations among 740 postmenopausal women in the Nurses' Health Study. All women reported their analgesic use in 1988 or 1990 and provided a blood sample in 1989 to 1990. We calculated adjusted geometric mean estrogen and androgen levels for each category of analgesic use and calculated the P value for trend with increasing frequency of use. There was no association between days of use per month of aspirin, nonaspirin NSAIDs, or acetaminophen in 1990 and hormone levels (all P(trend) > or = 0.09). However, we observed significant inverse trends between the estimated number of aspirin tablets per month in 1988 and concentrations of estrone (P(trend) = 0.04) and estrone sulfate (P(trend) = 0.03). In analyses of total (aspirin and nonaspirin) NSAID use in 1990, women who used NSAIDs at least 15 days per month had significantly lower levels of estradiol compared with women with no NSAID use (P(trend) = 0.03). Frequency of use of all analgesics (aspirin, nonaspirin NSAIDs, and acetaminophen) in 1990 was inversely associated with concentrations of estradiol (P(trend) = 0.001), free estradiol (P(trend) = 0.01), estrone sulfate (P(trend) = 0.03), and the ratio of estradiol to testosterone (P(trend) = 0.04). Among postmenopausal women, regular users of aspirin and other analgesics may have lower estrogen levels than nonusers, which could contribute to a decreased risk of breast or ovarian cancer among analgesic users.

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