BackgroundEpidemiologic studies of the association between nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, and breast cancer risk have yielded inconsistent results. We investigated the association of NSAID use with risk of breast cancer in the California Teachers Study cohort, with special attention to risk of specific breast cancer subtypes and to type of NSAID used.
MethodsWe analyzed data on 114 460 women in the California Teachers Study cohort who were aged 22 to 85 years and free of breast cancer at baseline in 1995 to 1996. Information on frequency and duration of NSAID use was collected through a self-administered questionnaire. A total of 2391 women were diagnosed with breast cancer during the follow-up period from 1995 to 2001. We used Cox proportional hazards regression to estimate relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of breast cancer subtypes with NSAID use.
ResultsNeither regular use (more than once a week) of any NSAID (aspirin and ibuprofen combined) nor regular use of aspirin was associated with breast cancer risk (RR = 1.09, 95% CI = 0.97 to 1.21 for daily versus no regular use of NSAIDs and RR = 0.98, 95% CI = 0.86 to 1.13 for daily versus no regular use of aspirin). However, long-term (> or = 5 years) daily aspirin users had a non-statistically significant decreased risk of estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor (ER/PR)-positive breast cancer (RR = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.62 to 1.03). In contrast, we observed a statistically significantly increased risk of ER/PR-negative breast cancer with long-term daily use of aspirin (RR = 1.81, 95% CI = 1.12 to 2.92). In this population, 11 fewer ER/PR-positive breast cancer cases and seven excess ER/PR-negative breast cancer cases may be due to daily long-term aspirin use among 2391 breast cancer cases observed over 6 years if the association were proven to be causal. Long-term daily use of ibuprofen was also associated with an increased risk of breast cancer (RR = 1.51, 95% CI = 1.17 to 1.95), particularly of nonlocalized tumors (RR = 1.92, 95% CI = 1.24 to 2.97). If causality were subsequently proven, 16 of the observed 2391 breast cancer cases and 8 of the 713 non-localized breast cancer cases would be attributable to long-term daily use of ibuprofen.
ConclusionsLong-term daily use of NSAIDs was not associated with breast cancer risk overall. Ibuprofen use was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, and long-term daily aspirin use was associated with an increased risk of ER/PR-negative breast cancer. However, it is not clear if the observed association is causal.