Inflammation contributes to the development of many diseases, including arthritis, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and cancer. So it makes sense that doctors would wonder if medicines that control inflammation, such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), could affect breast cancer risk.
There are many NSAIDs, including:
- ibuprofen (brand names include: Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)
- naproxen (brand names include: Naprosyn, Naprolan)
- naproxen sodium (brand names include: Aleve, Anaprox)
- ketoprofen (brand name: Orudis)
- indomethacin (brand name: Indocin)
- piroxicam (brand name: Feldene)
- nabumetone (brand name: Relafen)
A study showed that women who regularly took NSAIDs had a 24% lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who didn't take NSAIDs. Some earlier research also has shown an association between a lower risk of breast cancer and regularly taking aspirin. But these results weren't statistically significant, which means they could have happened just by chance. And another large study that was part of the Women's Health Study, a 12-year study of 39,876 U.S. women, showed that taking a low dose of aspirin daily didn't lower breast cancer risk.
Frequently taking NSAIDs can cause bleeding, stomach ulcers, liver and kidney damage, and other serious health problems. Because of these risks and conflicting research results, doctors don't recommend regularly taking NSAIDs to lower breast cancer risk.
The most important thing to take from this research is knowing that if you have to take NSAIDs regularly for other medical reasons, you're not increasing your breast cancer risk.