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Could a small dose of aspirin a day prevent breast cancer?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Aspirin could help prevent breast and other types of cancer.

A study conducted only in the laboratory suggests taking an aspirin a day might help prevent breast and other types of cancer. Researchers for the study that appears in the July 2015 issue of Laboratory Investigation say aspirin appears to have the ability to block cancer stem cells from reproducing.


Dr. Sushanta Banerjee, research director of the Cancer Research Unit at the Kansas City (Mo.) Veterans Affairs Medical Center lead the research. For the study mouse models and incubated breast cancer cells were studied in the lab to see if aspirin could stop breast cancer from spreading.

Aspirin stops cancer from growing

One of the reasons for the study was that aspirin has been show to help prevent colon and other gastrointestinal cancers. For this study the researchers incubated breast cancer cells, exposing about half of them to varying levels of ASA (acetylsalicylic acid), the main ingredient in aspirin. Breast cancer cells exposed to aspirin either died or were unable to grow.

In the second part of the study 20 mice with aggressive tumors were given "low dose" aspirin for fifteen days. Aspirin exposure "dramatically" increased the rate that cancer cells died Banjeree said.

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Aspirin could have a double use, based on the outcome of the research. Mice given aspirin had tumors that were forty six percent smaller than those not treated, meaning it could stop breast cancer from returning. Or it could be used for cancer prevention.

Mice pre-treated with aspirin for ten days and then exposed to cancer had significantly fewer cancerous tumors compared to those not given the drug.

"We could give aspirin after chemotherapy to prevent relapse and keep the pressure on, which we saw was effective in both the laboratory and the mouse model, and we could use it preventatively," Banjeree said

Should you take aspirin to prevent breast or other types of cancer?.

You should speak with your doctor before you consider adding aspirin to your daily regimen for cancer prevention. For some, especially people taking blood thinner or with a history of ulcers, aspirin could be dangerous. It can also interact with other medications you might be taking. More studies are needed to prove aspirin could prevent breast cancer or other types of cancerous tumors. Banjeree points out the dose used in the experiments was very low but there may be side effects that are yet unknown.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons