Daily Aspirin Provides No Protective Benefits Against Breast Cancer: Study

After ending the study early, researchers determined aspirin should not be recommended as a preventative treatment for breast cancer.

Taking aspirin daily may not provide protective benefits against breast cancer, despite anecdotal evidence that has encouraged the practice, according to the findings of a new study.

The lack of benefits and the risk to patients was high enough that researchers stopped the study after determining patients who received daily aspirin saw no improved survival rates, compared to breast cancer survivors who didn’t take aspirin daily. The findings were published on April 29 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Breast cancer is caused by abnormal cell growth or tumors in the breast. It is highly treatable in its early stages, but if left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body and lead to death. The American Cancer Association estimates that more than 300,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed every year in the U.S., with about 42,000 women in America dying each year from the malignancies.

Treatment often includes surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of the three.

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In this latest study, a team of researchers from a number of universities across the country involved in the Alliance A011502 Randomized Trial focused on breast cancer management and survival in a phase 3 randomized placebo-controlled double-blind trial, the strictest type of clinical study.

They assigned more than 3,000 participants to either daily use of 300 mg of aspirin or a placebo dose, attempting to determine if daily aspirin could help prevent the recurrence of breast cancer among nonmetastatic high-risk breast cancer survivors treated across 534 academic hospitals in the United States and Canada from 2017 to 2020.

Patients were grouped based on hormone receptor status (positive or negative), weight, stage II vs III cancer, and time since cancer diagnosis.

Overall, researchers noted there was no significant difference in disease-free survival events between the aspirin group and the placebo group. This means that survivors who took aspirin did not stay cancer-free longer compared to survivors who didn’t take daily aspirin.

Patients in both groups had relatively the same number of deaths, invasive progression of breast cancer, and new incidences of cancer overall. Additionally, the survival rate for breast cancer was similar in both groups, and the number of side effects from cancer were also similar in both groups.

Daily Aspirin Use Concerns

The findings come as more doctors and scientists question the use of aspirin on a daily basis to treat a number of ailments despite recent recommendations that older adults take daily aspirin to help prevent the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Other studies indicate there is only a slight protection between heart disease and daily low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks and other heart conditions. In addition, some studies have linked daily aspirin use to increased elderly fall risks requiring hospital care, and studies that warn that the risk of bleeding and death offset the few heart benefits daily aspirin use provides.

“Among participants with high-risk nonmetastatic breast cancer, daily aspirin therapy did not improve risk of breast cancer recurrence or survival in early follow-up,” researchers in this latest study concluded. “Despite its promise and wide availability, aspirin should not be recommended as an adjuvant breast cancer treatment.”

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