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Aspirin to treat breast cancer?
Women with a high genetic risk of breast cancer live longer if they take preventive aspirin before they are diagnosed with breast cancer.
A recent study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that aspirin can protect women at increased genetic risk from breast cancer. The results of the study were published in the English language journal "CANCER".
What is DNA methylation?
It is often unclear why some sufferers benefit from a particular therapy while others do not. In some cases, gene sequences play a role, in other cases chemical modifications of the DNA can be decisive. The latter are called epigenetic changes and involve a process called DNA methylation. In their current study, the researchers now wanted to find out whether DNA methylation could influence the effect of aspirin in breast cancer patients.
The team investigated DNA methylation in breast tumor tissues and in cells that circulate in the patient's blood. This is the first study to investigate the influence of DNA methylation on the relationship between aspirin consumption and mortality in women with breast cancer, the research group reports.
Aspirin protected women from death from breast cancer
In the study of 1,266 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1996 and 1997, 476 women died for various reasons and 202 women died specifically from the effects of breast cancer by the end of 2014. In women whose DNA was not methylated in the region that controls the expression of the BRCA1 gene, the general risk of dying and the specific risk of dying of breast cancer were lower when using aspirin. Other methylation patterns related to aspirin use and mortality were also examined. The researchers found that the results could help identify women who could benefit from aspirin based on their cells' DNA methylation profile after breast cancer diagnosis. Future studies should consider a broader DNA methylation profile to better characterize vulnerable women.
Should Women With Breast Cancer Diagnosis Get Aspirin?
The consideration of DNA methylation profiles as potential modifiers of the aspirin-mortality association could provide new insights into the underlying biological mechanisms for the use of aspirin in relation to mortality after the breast cancer diagnosis, the researchers report. If confirmed, the results can also have an impact on clinical decision-making by using epigenetic markers to identify people who use aspirin prior to diagnosis to affect later mortality. This could help optimize risk reduction strategies and improve the survival of women with breast cancer, the research group added. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Tengteng Wang, Lauren E. McCullough, Alexandra J. White, Patrick T. Bradshaw, Xinran Xu et al .: Prediagnosis aspirin use, DNA methylation, and mortality after breast cancer: A population ‐ based study, in CANCER (query: 12.08. 2019), CANCER