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Aspirin May Help Obese Breast Cancer Patients

More than 7,000 researchers from 90 countries are meeting this week at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

One of the San Antonio doctors sharing his research has exciting news about how aspirin could help extend the lives of patients.

  

"Up to 1 in 8 women in their lifetime will develop breast cancer, which is an astounding number," commented Andrew Brenner, MD, Ph.D. "So it really touches all of us."

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Credit Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio
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Texas Public Radio
Andrew Brenner, MD, Ph.D., is a medical oncologist at the UT Health Science Center's Cancer Therapy and Research Center.

  

Brenner is a man on a mission: to find ways to fight a killer. He’s a medical oncologist. When he started treating South Texas breast cancer patients, he noticed more than half of them were obese. Brenner says it impacts their outcome.

"Women who are post-menopausal and obese have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Their chance of developing a recurrence is significantly higher, and their survival is significantly shorter," Brenner stated.

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Credit Wendy Rigby / Texas Public Radio
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Texas Public Radio
So-called "nude" mice are injected with breast cancer cells so researchers can study tumors.

  

Obesity creates inflammation in the body which can trigger the release of estrogen in the breast, fueling the cancer risk. That inflammation can be inhibited.

Brenner conducted a scientific survey of breast cancer patients to see if they were taking aspirin or anti inflammatories or fish oil. The result was encouraging.

"They had half the prevalence of recurrence as women who were not taking it," Brenner said. "If something as simple as aspirin can help them prevent having breast cancer again, that certainly is very exciting."

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Credit University of Texas Health Science Center
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University of Texas Health Science Center
This is the official logo for the 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

  

More study is needed. But the promise of a non-toxic, inexpensive way to help women is promising, since reversing obesity itself takes time these patients may not have.

​The San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium is put on by the University of Texas Health Science Center's Cancer Therapy and Research Center, the American Association for Cancer Research and the Baylor College of Medicine.