Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAID) are associated with modest inconsistent reductions in breast cancer risk in population-based cohorts, whereas two focused studies of patients with benign breast disease (BBD) have found lower risk with NSAID use. Given that BBD includes fibroinflammatory lesions linked to elevated breast cancer risk, we assessed whether NSAID use was associated with lower breast cancer risk among patients with BBD.

Participants were postmenopausal women in the Cancer Prevention Study-II (CPS-II), a prospective study of cancer incidence and mortality, who completed follow-up surveys in 1997 with follow-up through June 30, 2015. History of BBD, NSAID use, and covariate data were updated biennially. This analysis included 23,615 patients with BBD and 36,751 patients with non-BBD, including 3,896 incident breast cancers over an average of 12.72 years of follow-up among participants. NSAID use, overall and by formulation, recency, duration, and pills per month was analyzed versus breast cancer risk overall and by BBD status using multivariable-adjusted Cox models; BBD status and NSAID use were modeled as time-dependent exposures.

Patients with BBD who reported using NSAIDs experienced lower breast cancer risk (HR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.78–0.97), with similar effects for estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancers [HR, 0.85; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.74–0.97] and ER-negative breast cancers (HR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.59–1.29); among women without BBD, NSAID use was unrelated to risk (HR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.92–1.13; Pinteraction = 0.04). Associations stratified by age, obesity, menopausal hormone use, and cardiovascular disease were similar.

Among patients with BBD, NSAID use appears linked to lower breast cancer risk. Further studies to assess the value of NSAID use among patients with BBD are warranted.

Prevention relevance:

We examined whether NSAID use, a modifiable exposure, is associated with breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women from the Cancer Prevention Study-II with self-reported benign breast disease, an often inflammatory condition associated with higher rates of breast cancer.

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