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Aspirin in breast cancer turns out to be "Russian roulette"

Results of a study conducted by a group of scientists from several US universities, published in the journal Cancer.

Previous studies have shown that some women taking aspirin have a lower risk of breast cancer, and if they get sick, they have a higher chance of survival compared to those who did not. Scientists have attributed this effect to the potent anti-inflammatory properties of acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), since chronic inflammation plays a key role in the development of many types of cancer, including breast cancer. However, aspirin does not always play such a positive role – there are some patients who take the drug, on the contrary, reduce their chances of survival, making breast cancer even more aggressive.

The authors of the study suggested that the reasons for such a dual role of aspirin in breast cancer were related to the genetic characteristics of patients and tumors. Because of these properties, aspirin can affect DNA methylation in a variety of ways – a process of chemically altering the DNA molecule that acts as a switch, including by excluding the activity of certain genes. In some cases, the result is a reduction in the tumor and a strengthening of the body's defenses, and in some cases the consequences are just the opposite.

To confirm or disprove this hypothesis, the researchers analyzed data on 1266 breast cancer patients. These women were diagnosed in 1996-97 and followed until 2014. By the end of this period, 476 of them died, 202 of them breast cancer. The researchers looked at patterns of activity of 13 genes associated with breast cancer in tumor cells and cells circulating in patients' blood and compared these data with information on women taking aspirin, assessing the individual risk of dying from breast cancer.

As it turned out, the role of aspirin in whether a patient survives cancer or not really depends on the personal genetic characteristics, ie, the DNA methylation profile (change) in tumor and blood tissues. So, in some patients who started taking aspirin at least six weeks before diagnosis, the risk of dying after breast cancer increased by 67%. However, in these women, DNA was definitely altered in the region of the genome that controls gene activity. BRCA1. This gene is also called the "Angelina ololi gene" because one of its variants is associated with a very high risk of inherited breast cancer and, as the carrier of this option, the Hollywood actress has chosen to proactively perform a double mastectomy (surgery to remove both ducts). glands).

At the same time, in patients taking aspirin but who did not have DNA methylation in the control gene BRCA1 In the region, the risk of dying from breast cancer has been reduced by 22-40%.

As the study authors point out, its results are preliminary and do not mean that women at high risk of breast cancer should start urgently, or vice versa, stop taking aspirin. Further research, scientists expect, will allow you to determine precisely for whom aspirin intake is beneficial and for whom it is dangerous.

Also read interesting facts about aspirin.

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