Add ovarian cancer to the list of cancers that a daily aspirin may help ward off. Researchers with the National Cancer Institute found that women may be able to reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by 20 percent by taking aspirin regularly.
The research, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in early February, studied participants who used either aspirin, non-aspirin NSAIDs (nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs) or acetaminophen. Here’s what they found:
- The women who took aspirin daily had a 20 percent lower risk of ovarian cancer than the women who took aspirin less than once a week.
- Those who used non-aspirin NSAIDs at least once a week had 10 percent lower risk of ovarian cancer than those who used it less often. The decreased risk is not statistically significant.
- The women who used acetaminophen had no reduction in risk of ovarian cancer. Acetaminophen does not have anti-inflammatory properties.
Ovarian cancer prevention could save thousands of lives every year. The disease is typically not diagnosed until it is advanced because symptoms may mimic other conditions, including digestive and bladder disorders, and there is no reliable, routine screening test.
Evidence of aspirin’s anti-cancer effect is strongest for colorectal, esophageal and stomach cancer, though studies show it may reduce risk for prostate, breast and some skin cancers, as well as prevent cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. A daily aspirin also is considered a reliable way to prevent heart attacks.
“I think there’s ample evidence that aspirin has a role in disease prevention,” says Dr. Giuseppe Del Priore, National Director of Gynecologic Oncology at our hospitals. “It’s a credible message that’s consistent with my interpretation of the literature.”
Because aspirin is an anti-inflammatory drug, Dr. Del Priore has recommended it to his patients over acetaminophen. Inflammation in the body may contribute to a host of chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It’s important to consider the risks of a daily aspirin, which include serious but uncommon side effects such as internal bleeding. Consult with your doctor before starting an aspirin regimen.
Learn about the risk factors for ovarian cancer and how it’s treated.