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Link Between Risk, Anti-Inflammatory Medicines Unclear

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A study collected and analyzed results from many earlier studies looking for a link between breast cancer risk and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medicines. The researchers concluded that taking NSAIDs might lower breast cancer risk. Still, they weren't certain about the link between NSAIDs and lower risk and strongly emphasized the need for more research.

Aspirin is probably the most common NSAID. Other NSAIDs include Advil, Motrin, Aleve, and Celebrex. NSAIDs are used to treat fever, pain, and inflammation. Many adults take a low dose of aspirin each day to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. NSAIDs work by blocking the COX enzyme. The COX enzyme signals the body to develop fever and inflammation, which can cause pain. COX enzyme levels can be abnormally high in people diagnosed with breast cancer and doctors don't understand why this happens. The ability of NSAIDs to block the COX enzyme may be why NSAIDS seem to be associated with lower breast cancer risk.

NSAIDs offer benefits to people who have fever or chronic pain. Aspirin may even save lives. But as with most medicines, NSAIDs can cause side effects, including stomach ulcers and intestinal bleeding. When NSAIDs are taken at higher-than-recommended doses or for a long time, other more serious problems can happen.

Until the link between NSAIDs and reduced breast cancer risk is better understood, DON'T take an NSAID to lower your risk. Even if more research shows that NSAIDs do lower breast cancer risk, it will take some time for doctors to figure out the right type and dose. Always tell your doctor about any and all medicines (including those that don't require a prescription), and any vitamins and supplements that you're taking or thinking about taking. Together you can decide what's best for you.

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