Regular use of aspirin by women whose breast cancer is in remission might cut the risk of recurrence or death from the disease by half, according to study findings published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and reported in the Los Angeles Times.

Researchers said the findings surprised them because several other large studies showed that regular aspirin use had no effect on women’s initial risk of developing breast cancer.

But scientists remained interested in the study results potential. “If true, it would certainly be a relatively easy, inexpensive, potentially safe intervention for women who have breast cancer,” said John Glaspy, MD, MPH, a breast cancer specialist at the University of California at Los Angeles’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Researchers drew their conclusions after analyzing self-reported data from 4,164 female nurses who were also breast cancer patients and participants in the Nurses’ Health Study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Scientists gathered information about the women’s aspirin use starting one year after their diagnosis and they’d completed therapy.

The result? Women who’d taken aspirin two to five days each week were 60 percent less likely to experience a repeat of breast cancer. The women were also 71 percent less likely to die from the disease.

Interestingly, the women who took aspirin even more often experienced a lowered risk of disease recurrence (43 percent) and death (64 percent).

Those who took aspirin or acetaminophen only once each week enjoyed zero benefits.

Researchers link aspirin to possible breast cancer benefits because inflammation triggers the spread of cancerous cells (a process called metastasis) and aspirin has anti-inflammatory properties.

Other studies also show that aspirin stops breast cancer cell growth and incites the immune system to fight cancerous cells.

As scientists continue to study the aspirin-breast cancer connection, however, they stress that women currently battling breast cancer avoid the drug.

Why? It can hinder breast cancer treatment and cause serious side effects.

Read “Battling Breast Cancer” for comprehensive and important information about how the disease affects black women.