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Women suffering from breast cancer who take aspirin regularly appear to improve their chances of surviving the disease and preventing it from recurring, research suggests.
Patients taking the anti-inflammatory drug, usually for heart disease, had a 50 per cent lower chance of dying from breast cancer and a 50 per cent lower risk that the cancer would spread, according to a study of more than 4,000 women. Michelle Holmes of Harvard Medical School, who led the study published this week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, said that the finding would need to be confirmed in other clinical trials, but suggested that aspirin might be a low-cost intervention to help improve survival rates. The risk was found to be lowest in women taking an aspirin between two and five times a week.
Dr Holmes and her team studied 4,164 nurses taking part in the Nurses Health Study, an ongoing analysis of a wide range of health issues. The study followed the women for 30 years watching for breast cancer and all causes of death until 2006. A total of 341 of the nurses died of breast cancer during this time, with those women who took aspirin two to five days a week having a 60 per cent reduced risk of their cancer spreading and a 71 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death. Six to seven aspirins a week lowered the risk of spread and death slightly less.
The researchers speculated that the effect of aspirin may be linked to its properties at reducing inflammation. However they added that patients should not take aspirin while undergoing radiation or chemotherapy because of the risk of side effects. The drug, which can also cause gastric bleeding, should not be taken without medical advice.
People who are typically happy and enthusiastic are less likely to develop heart disease than those of a gloomier disposition, researchers say. An increased risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke has previously been linked to getting angry or stressed, but a study by American researchers, published in the European Heart Journal, claims to be the first to show an independent link between emotions and coronary heart disease.