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Use of Pain Relievers Linked to Lower Estrogen Levels

Last Updated: March 24, 2010.

More frequent use of analgesics is associated with lower estrogen levels in postmenopausal women, which may reduce the risk of breast or ovarian cancer, according to a study published online March 23 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

WEDNESDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- More frequent use of analgesics is associated with lower estrogen levels in postmenopausal women, which may reduce the risk of breast or ovarian cancer, according to a study published online March 23 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Margaret A. Gates, from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data on self-reported analgesic use (aspirin, non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAID], and acetaminophen) and estrogen and androgen levels in 740 postmenopausal women in 1988 to 1990.

The researchers found that women who reported greater aspirin use had significantly lower levels of estrone and estrone sulfate. Women who used aspirin and non-aspirin NSAIDs at least 15 days a month had significantly lower levels of estradiol. More frequent use of all analgesics was associated with significantly lower levels of estradiol, free estradiol, and estrone sulfate, as well as a significantly lower ratio of estradiol to testosterone.

"Our results provide modest support for an inverse association between analgesic use and estrogen concentrations in postmenopausal women," Gates and colleagues conclude. "Additional research is needed to confirm this association and to determine whether the decrease in estrogen concentrations due to analgesic use translates to a lower risk of breast or ovarian cancer."

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