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One of the biggest dangers from breast cancer occurs when it spreads to lymph nodes. But that dispersal of cancerous cells can often be stopped with a simple, easily-obtained, pill.
Research in Ireland shows that by merely taking aspirin, women with breast cancer can increase their odds of surviving cancer and keeping cancer from migrating to other parts of the body.
“We analyzed data from 2,796 women with stage I-III breast cancer. We found that those women prescribed aspirin in the years immediately prior to their breast cancer diagnosis were statistically significantly less likely to present with a lymph node-positive breast cancer than non-users,” says researcher Ian Barron. “The association was strongest among women prescribed aspirin regularly and women prescribed higher aspirin doses. We now need to establish how and why this is the case.”
The scientists point out that lymph node positive breast cancers are tumors that have had cancerous cells escape into the lymph nodes that are located next to the breast. These types of tumors are the most serious types of cancer and carry a significant risk of being fatal.
“Our findings suggest that aspirin could play a role in reducing mortality from breast cancer by preventing the cancer spreading to nearby lymph nodes,” says Barron.
The scientists caution that much more needs to be learned about how aspirin affects cancer. And they warn that aspirin can produce serious side effects like gastrointestinal bleeding that can threaten your life.
“We still need to identify exactly how aspirin may prevent breast cancer from spreading to the lymph nodes; which women, or types of breast cancer, are most likely to benefit from taking aspirin; as well as what the optimum doses might be,” says researcher Kathleen Bennett.
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Update: In September of 2018 researchers concluded that it’s important to follow your doctor’s advice when it comes to taking a daily low-dose aspirin but that they saw no clinical benefits of the practice in healthy people and plenty of risks. To read about this research, click here: Daily low-dose aspirin: Risky or worth it?