The lowly aspirin tablet, which is a trusted solution for headaches and body pain, may now come into the limelight by potentially being able to prevent the mounting cases of ovarian cancer. Aspirin has already been recognized for reducing the occurrence of melanomas and breast cancer and for being able to prevent colorectal cancers.
The results of a study, published on Feb. 6 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, indicates that taking an aspirin daily could reduce ovarian cancer in women. This is possible because cancer, like many other diseases, is caused under conditions of long-term or chronic inflammation. Research was conducted on 7776 women who had cancer of the ovaries or some other cancer, either currently or in the past. The study also included 11843 women who had never been diagnosed with cancer. These women were studied under 12 epidemiological studies of cancer. Out of the 20,000 women selected for the study, 18% were regular aspirin users, 24% used non-aspirin drugs, or NSAIDs and 16% regularly took acetaminophen.
According to the results suggested by this study, those who regularly took an aspirin tablet had a 20% reduced risk of developing ovarian cancer, and those who took NSAIDs had a 10% reduction in their likelihood of getting the disease. The study also showed that that there was no directly traceable link between those who took acetaminophen and a reduced risk of cancer. It further indicated that the 10% reduction in those who took NSAIDs was not of sufficient statistical significance to conclude that there was an actual benefit.
Although the findings could be a great step forward in medical research, if taking an aspirin a day can prevent ovarian cancer, the researchers are urging caution and medical advice before taking the tablet regularly. It is strongly advised that people consult with their doctors before embarking on any prolonged and regular intake of aspirin. According to Britton Trabert, Ph.D., one of the authors of the study, there is a need for more studies to explore the balance of the “risk-benefit” of aspirin in relation to ovarian cancer. Seeking medical consultation is even more vital because, in some cases, prolonged use of aspirin can have very serious side effects, such as stomach bleeds, inflammation and even a hemorrhagic stroke.
According to the National Cancer Institute, ovarian cancer has alarming statistics and about 22,240 cases were diagnosed in 2013. They also estimate that about 14,000 women will die of the disease by the end of 2014. A ray of hope in this gloomy scenario is that the malignancy responds well to treatment, if diagnosed in the early stages of the illness. However, this early detection and diagnosis is quite rare as the most common symptoms of abdominal pain and feeling bloated are usually dismissed as being related to harmless ailments of the digestive system. As a result ovarian cancer is usually detected only at an advanced stage, rendering treatment largely ineffective. In such a scenario, prevention really is the best cure. So any concrete evidence that an aspirin everyday will prove successful at ovarian cancer prevention will surely be well received.
By Grace Stephen