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Aspirin use, ovarian cancer studied

4/4/2014, 6:05 a.m.

Regular aspirin use may reduce ovarian cancer risk, a study by scientists at the National Cancer Institute finds.

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Britton Trabert

The institute says that further research is needed before clinical recommendations can be made, but it found that women who take aspirin daily may reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by 20 percent.

The study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute estimates more than 20,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014. More than 14,000 will die from the disease.

Early stage ovarian cancer may be successfully treated.

Symptoms can mimic more common conditions, such as digestive and bladder disorders, so it is often not diagnosed until it has reached advanced stages. Late stage ovarian cancer leaves women with limited treatment options and poor prognoses, making preventive strategies potentially important for controlling the disease.

Chronic or persistent inflammation has been shown to increase the risk of cancer.

Previous studies suggest the anti-inflammatory properties of aspirin and non-aspirin NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, may reduce cancer risk overall.

However, studies examining whether use of these agents may influence ovarian cancer risk have been largely inconclusive. This is the largest study to date to assess the relationship between these drugs and ovarian cancer risk.

Britton Trabert and Nicolas Wentzensen of NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics and their colleagues analyzed data pooled from 12 large epidemiological studies to investigate whether women who used aspirin, non-aspirin NSAIDs, or acetaminophen have a lower risk of ovarian cancer. Trabert said the study adds to a growing list of malignancies, such as colorectal cancer, that appear to be potentially preventable by aspirin usage.

“Our study suggests that aspirin regimens, proven to protect against heart attack, may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer as well,” Trabert said.

Adverse side effects of daily aspirin use include upper gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke. A daily aspirin regimen should only be undertaken with a doctor’s approval, the scientists caution.

For more information, visit http://www.cancer.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).