Cutting Inflammation Could Cut Cancer Risk

Studies suggest anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin might help

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TUESDAY, April 17, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Reducing inflammation may help prevent cancer, suggest two Mayo Clinic studies presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Los Angeles.

One study found that women who regularly used aspirin developed fewer cancers than women who didn't use the anti-inflammatory drug. Another study found that there may be an association between lung inflammation seen in asthma and increased risk of breast cancer spreading to the lungs.

The first study looked at more than 22,500 cancer-free postmenopausal women who took part in the Iowa Women's Health Study. A decade later, women who regularly used aspirin were 16 percent less likely to have developed cancer and 13 percent less likely to have died of cancer than women who did not use aspirin, the researchers found.

This same benefit was not seen in women who regularly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) other than aspirin, said the study by researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

And while aspirin helped protect former and "never smokers" from cancer, that was not the case for women who were active smokers.

The findings do not mean that women should toss aside their NSAIDs or start taking aspirin on a regular basis, the Mayo Clinic researchers said.

"This is just one study. However, it does provide provocative evidence that regular aspirin use may play a role in preventing the most common chronic diseases in western countries, namely cancer and heart disease," study lead author Dr. Aditya Bardia said in a prepared statement.

In the second study, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona found that there may be an association between lung inflammation seen in asthma and increased risk of breast cancer spreading to the lungs.

The study, which was conducted in mice and supported by an ongoing examination of breast cancer patient records, suggests that breast cancer patients with asthma may be able to reduce the risk of cancer spread by using inhaler medications.

"A link between pulmonary inflammation and lung metastasis would not only have significant effects on patients' diagnosis and care, but will also immediately affect the way breast cancer patients are treated," study author Dr. Anna Taranova, a senior research fellow, said in a prepared statement.

"Those with asthma might be able to reduce their risk of lung metastasis, and increase their survival, with aggressive corticosteroid treatment," she said.

This connection between asthma-linked lung inflammation and cancer spread may also occur in other types of cancers, Taranova said.

More information

Breastcancer.org has more about metastatic and recurrent breast cancer.

SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, news release, April 16, 2007

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