Called "the wonder drug" by some people, aspirin is used to treat pain, inflammation, and fever. In addition, a number of research studies suggest that aspirin has other benefits. For many adults, taking aspirin every day can safely lower the risk of a heart attack or a stroke. Some research also has shown that taking aspirin every day might lower the risk of cancer, including breast cancer.
A study followed more than 145,000 people for 5 years or longer. The results suggest that aspirin may truly lower the risk of certain cancers. The researchers concluded that taking adult-strength aspirin every day can lower the risk of colon and prostate cancer. Breast cancer risk was reduced by 17%, but the evidence wasn't strong enough to conclude that aspirin can lower breast cancer risk.
There are several important things to keep in mind about this study:
- The aspirin dose was adult-strength, which means 325 milligrams or more. People who take daily aspirin for its cardiovascular benefits usually take a lower dose, about 81 milligrams per day. A low dose of aspirin did not lower the risk of cancer in this study.
- The researchers didn't feel that they could make a firm conclusion about aspirin lowering breast cancer risk. The risk reduction benefits suggested by this study need to be confirmed by other large studies.
- Taking aspirin, especially adult-strength aspirin, every day has some risks, including bleeding, bruising, intestinal irritation, and allergic reactions.
Until more is known, don't take any dose of aspirin every day without talking to your doctor. For more information on steps you can take to lower your risk for breast cancer, visit the breastcancer.org Lower Your Risk Section.