Aspirin "Lunch"by Damian Gadal is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Association Between Aspirin and Mortality From Breast Cancer Depends on Patient’s Genetic Profile Interview with:
Tengteng Wang, PhD, MSPH, MBBS
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Epidemiology
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Channing Division of Network Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital What is the background for this study?

Response: Chronic inflammation is a key player in the development of multiple cancer types, including breast cancer. Aspirin is one of the major non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which clearly has anti-inflammatory properties. Given this, substantial evidence from laboratory and population studies suggests that taking aspirin may reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. However, the association of aspirin use with death outcomes following breast cancer diagnosis remains inconclusive and inconsistent across studies.

Therefore, we choose to focus on mortality outcomes in this paper and we hypothesized that the inconsistent results for aspirin in relation to mortality could be due to differences in the association by patients’ biological profiles, specifically DNA methylation profiles here. What are the main findings? 

Response: Our most important findings suggest that the association between aspirin use and mortality following breast cancer diagnosis may depend upon patients’ DNA methylation profiles measured in the blood and tumor tissue. We observed that all-cause mortality after breast cancer was significantly elevated by 67% among aspirin ever-users with methylated tumor promotor of breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1), but not those with unmethylated tumors. We also found that breast cancer-specific mortality was decreased by 40%, 20%, and 37%, respectively, among aspirin users with unmethylated tumor promotor of BRCA1 and progesterone receptor (PR) genes, and global hypermethylation of long interspersed elements-1 (LINE-1), but not those with methylated tumors and global hypomethylation of LINE-1. What should readers take away from your report?

Response:  Aspirin use may have different influence on mortality outcomes after breast cancer diagnosis due to patients’ DNA methylations profiles measured in blood and breast tumor tissue. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response:  Future research designed to replicate our findings should include a larger sample size to allow examination of patterns and other time windows of aspirin use, and an enlarged panel of genes to explore the role of genetic predisposition in driving overall genetic instability on survival after breast cancer diagnosis.

Disclosures: One of our co-authors Dr. Alfred I. Neugut reports personal fees from Otsuka, United Biosource Corporation, Hospira, EHE International, Eisai, and Teva outside the submitted work. The remaining authors made no disclosures.



Prediagnosis aspirin use, DNA methylation, and mortality after breast cancer: A population‐based study

Tengteng Wang PhD, MSPH, MBBS, Lauren E. McCullough PhD, MSPH, Alexandra J. White PhD, MSPH, Patrick T. Bradshaw PhD, Xinran Xu PhD, Yoon Hee Cho PhD, Mary Beth Terry PhD, Susan L. Teitelbaum PhD, Alfred I. Neugut MD, PhD, Regina M. Santella PhD, Jia Chen ScD, Marilie D. Gammon PhD

First published: 12 August 2019



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Last Updated on August 19, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD