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Cancer Res. 2003 Sep 15;63(18):6096-101.

Breast cancer and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: prospective results from the Women's Health Initiative.

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The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1240, USA.


We analyzed data from the prospective Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study to examine the effects of regular use of aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on breast cancer risk. We studied a population of 80,741 postmenopausal women between 50 and 79 years of age who reported no history of breast cancer or other cancers (excluding nonmelanoma skin cancer), and we completed a personal baseline interview that elicited comprehensive health information including data on breast cancer risk factors and NSAID use. All of the cases were adjudicated by WHI physicians using pathology reports. Our analysis was based on 1392 confirmed cases of breast cancer. Relative risks (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated with adjustment for age and other breast cancer risk factors. Regular NSAID use (two or more tablets/week) for 5-9 years produced a 21% reduction in the incidence of breast cancer (RR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.60-1.04); regular NSAID use for 10 or more years produced a 28% reduction (RR, 0.72; CI, 0.56-0.91), and there was a statistically significant inverse linear trend of breast cancer incidence with the duration of NSAID use (P < 0.01). The estimated risk reduction for long-term use of ibuprofen (RR, 0.51; CI, 0.28-0.96) was greater than for aspirin (RR, 0.79; CI, 0.60-1.03). Subgroup analysis by breast cancer risk factors did not result in effect modification. Regular use of acetaminophen (an analgesic agent with little or no anti-inflammatory activity) or low-dose aspirin (<100 mg) was unrelated to the incidence of breast cancer. Our results indicate that the regular use of aspirin, ibuprofen, or other NSAIDs may have a significant chemopreventive effect against the development of breast cancer and underscore the need for clinical trials to confirm this effect.

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