redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen could significantly lower breast cancer recurrence rates in overweight or obese women, according to new research appearing in Friday’s edition of the journal Cancer Research.
In the study, Dr. Andrew Brenner of the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CRTC) at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and his colleagues found that women whose body mass index (BMI) was greater than 30 and who had the most common form of breast cancer had a 52 percent lower rate of recurrence and a 28-month delay in time to recurrence if they were taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Dr. Brenner and colleagues from the University of Texas at Austin, the START Center for Cancer Care in San Antonio, and the University of Texas Health Science Center used a retrospective analysis of human subjects and cell cultures to determine that using aspirin or other types of NSAIDs reduced the recurrence rate of estrogen receptor alpha (ERα)-positive breast cancer – though they cautioned that the findings were only preliminary.
“Our studies suggest that limiting inflammatory signaling may be an effective, less toxic approach to altering the cancer-promoting effects of obesity and improving patient response to hormone therapy,” explained Dr. Linda A. deGraffenried, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Texas in Austin.
“These results suggest that NSAIDs may improve response to hormone therapy, thereby allowing more women to remain on hormone therapy rather than needing to change to chemotherapy and deal with the associated side effects and complications,” she added. “However, these results are preliminary and patients should never undertake any treatment without consulting with their physician.”
The study authors obtained blood samples from 440 CRTC breast cancer patients, 58.5 percent of whom were obese and 25.8 percent of whom were overweight. Approximately 81 percent of the subjects took aspirin while the remainder took a different type of NSAID, 42 percent took statins, and 25 percent took omega-3 fatty acids.
They compared the prognoses of those who took NSAIDs with those who did not, then conducted a second study to investigate how breast cancer cells behave in a person’s body. To do so, they conducted a series of experiments designed to simulate a tumor filled with cancer cells, fat cells and the immune cells that promote inflammation.
They discovered that the factors associated with obesity serve as the catalyst for signals that promote growth and resistance to treatment within the tumor environment. While the mechanism that causes breast cancer to be more aggressive and less responsive to treatment in obese women is not well understood, the study authors believe that inflammation plays a key role and suggest that it also makes some cancer drugs less effective.
“Overweight or obese women diagnosed with breast cancer are facing a worse prognosis than normal-weight women,” said Dr. deGraffenried in a separate statement. “We believe that obese women are facing a different disease. There are changes at the molecular level. We want to reduce the disease-promoting effects of obesity.”
Based on their findings, the CTRC and the University of Texas in Austin have launched a pilot anti-inflammatory trial, and are looking to secure funding for a larger study. The authors state that their goal is to determine which women would benefit the most from the addition of NSAIDS to their regular treatment programs.
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