Regular and Low-dose Aspirin, Other Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Medications and Prospective Risk of HER2-defined Breast Cancer

The California Teachers Study

Christina A. Clarke; Alison J. Canchola; Lisa M. Moy; Susan L. Neuhausen; Nadia T. Chung; James V. Lacey Jr; Leslie Bernstein


Breast Cancer Res. 2017;19(52) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background. Regular users of aspirin may have reduced risk of breast cancer. Few studies have addressed whether risk reduction pertains to specific breast cancer subtypes defined jointly by hormone receptor (estrogen and progesterone receptor) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) expression. This study assessed the prospective risk of breast cancer (overall and by subtype) according to use of aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) in a cohort of female public school professionals in California.

Methods. In 1995 − 1996, participants in the California Teachers Study completed a baseline questionnaire on family history of cancer and other conditions, use of NSAIDs, menstrual and reproductive history, self-reported weight and height, living environment, diet, alcohol use, and physical activity. In 2005–2006, 57,164 participants provided some updated information, including use of NSAIDs and 1457 of these participants developed invasive breast cancer before January 2013. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression models provided hazard rate ratios (HRR) for the association between NSAID use and risk of invasive breast cancer as well as hormone receptor- and HER2-defined subtypes.

Results. Developing breast cancer was associated inversely with taking three or more tablets of low-dose aspirin per week (23% of participants). Among women reporting this exposure, the HRR was 0.84 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.72–0.98) compared to those not taking NSAIDs and this was particularly evident in women with the hormone receptor-positive/HER2-negative subtype (HRR = 0.80, 95% CI 0.66–0.96). Use of three or more tablets of "other" NSAIDs was marginally associated with lower risk of breast cancer (HRR = 0.79, 95% CI 0.62–1.00). Other associations with NSAIDs were generally null.

Conclusion. Our observation of reduced risk of breast cancer, among participants who took three or more tablets of low-dose aspirin weekly, is consistent with other reports looking at aspirin without differentiation by dose. This is the first report to suggest that the reduction in risk occurs for low-dose aspirin and not for regular-dose aspirin and only among women with the hormone receptor-positive/HER2-negative subtype. This preliminary study builds on previous knowledge and further supports the need for formal cancer chemoprevention studies of low-dose aspirin.