Previous studies have linked drugs such as aspirin to reduced breast cancer risk, however long-term use can bring about side effects in the general population. Adelaide researchers may have found a better way to use anti-inflammatory drugs to prevent breast cancer. The Hospital Research Foundation has identified a protein that causes inflammation and increased breast density in some women, increasing their breast cancer risk.
Associate Professor Wendy Ingman, from the University of Adelaide, said the findings were a step towards prevention. “If we can identify the women who are most at risk of breast cancer and who would most benefit from an anti-inflammatory treatment such as aspirin, then we can target our treatment to the right population,” she said.
“Women with extremely dense breast tissue have a four to sixfold increase in risk of breast cancer, compared to women with low density,” Associate Professor Ingman said. “Now we’re at the point where we can identify new treatments for reducing breast density and reducing women’s breast cancer risk.”
It is thought that almost 8 per cent of women have extremely high breast density, increasing the chance they will develop breast cancer.
“I think if you’d asked me five years ago what the prospects were for breast cancer prevention, I would have had difficulty answering it,” Associate Professor Ingman said.
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