Researchers at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Kansas City and the University of Kansas Medical Center in US found that in lab tests, aspirin blocked the proliferation of two different breast cancer lines.
One of the lines tested is often called triple-negative breast cancer, a less common but more difficult treat form of
Aspirin may also improve the effectiveness of current treatments for women whose breast cancers are hormone-receptor positive.
In the team's study, aspirin enhanced the effect of tamoxifen, the usual drug therapy for hormone-receptor positive breast cancer.
However, aspirin is a medicine with side effects, including gastrointestinal bleeding. Researchers will continue to explore if the positive effects of regular use of the drug outweigh the risks.
The new study found that aspirin may interfere with cancer cells' ability to find an aggressive, more primordial state.
In the mouse model, the researchers found that cancer cells treated with aspirin formed no or only partial stem cells, which are believed to fuel the growth and spread of tumours.
Senior author Sushanta Banerjee, director of the cancer research unit and a professor at the University of Kansas
Medical Center in Kansas City said first-line chemotherapy treatments do not destroy stem cells. Eventually, the tumour will grow again.
"If you don't target the stemness, it is known you will not get any effect. It will relapse," he said.
Banerjee said the ability of aspirin to attack multiple metabolic pathways is what makes it potentially useful in the fight against cancer.
Lead author of the study Gargi Maity, a postdoctoral fellow who works in the cancer research unit at the VA Medical Center, presented the study at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) in Boston.
Other co-authors of the study included Snigdha Banerjee, associate professor of medicine in hematology and oncology at KU, and postdoctoral scholars Archana De and Amlan Das.