Daily Aspirin Use Reduces Ovarian Cancer Risk by 20 Percent

Aspirin Pills in BoxWomen who use low-dose aspirin daily may reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by up to 20 percent, suggests new research from the National Institutes of Health as published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Previous research has suggested that the daily use of aspirin may reduce the risk of breast cancer and melanoma. Chronic or persistent inflammation can increase the risk of health problems including cancer. Both aspirin and non-aspirin NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) have anti-inflammatory properties, which may be the cause of the reduced cancer risk associated with the medications. However, until recently, a link between anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and the risk of ovarian cancer has been ambiguous.

In the United States alone, approximately 22,240 new cases of ovarian cancer were diagnosed last year. Although treatable when diagnosed early, ovarian cancer will cause more 14,000 deaths in 2014. Early detection of the disease is often difficult because the symptoms — pain in the lower abdomen and feeling bloated — are similar to other health problems such as bladder and digestive disorders.

In the present study, researchers investigated the use of aspirin, non-aspirin NSAIDS, and acetaminophen among 7,776 women with ovarian cancer and 11,843 women without the disease. The researchers obtained the data from 12 large studies that were a part of the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium.

Among all the participants, 18 percent used aspirin, 24 percent used non-aspirin NSAIDS, and 16 percent used acetaminophen.

The researchers discovered that the women who reported using low-dose aspirin daily had a 20 percent reduced risk of ovarian cancer compared to the women who used aspirin less than once a week. Low-dose is defined as less than 100 milligrams.

The researchers also note that aspirin could reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 34 percent depending on frequency and dose.

Women who reported using high-dose non-aspirin NSAIDS had a 10 percent reduced risk of ovarian cancer. High-dose is defined as more than 500 milligrams.

The use of acetaminophen did not reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.

Comments co-author Britton Trabert of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute on the findings:

“Our study suggests that aspirin regimens, proven to protect against heart attack, may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer as well. However intriguing our results are, they should not influence current clinical practice. Additional studies are needed to explore the delicate balance of risk-benefit for this potential chemopreventive agent, as well as studies to identify the mechanism by which aspirin may reduce ovarian cancer risk.”

Aspirin can cause severe side effects including bleeding in the stomach, inflammation, and hemorrhagic stroke in certain individuals. Women should consult with their health care provider before beginning a daily aspirin regimen.


Aspirin, Nonaspirin Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug, and Acetaminophen Use and Risk of Invasive Epithelial Ovarian Cancer: A Pooled Analysis in the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium:
Daily Aspirin Use ‘Reduces Ovarian Cancer Risk by 20%’:

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