Ovarian cancer is a disease that has a risk that could be decreased by a small pill. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that women lowered their risk for ovarian cancer by 20 percent with a daily dose of aspirin. Jennifer A. Doherty, a doctor of philosophy and member of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center’s Cancer Epidemiology and Chemoprevention Research program, said the study combines various studies conducted by the international Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium. She says that some one the studies go as far back as 1992.
Doherty also said that when they combined the 12 studies together, they could include over 7, 776 cases and could compare 11, 843 cancer free women. The study examined the possible connection between non-aspirin non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, acetaminophen, aspirin and the risk of developing ovarian cancer. The patients in all cases told their doctors which medicine they were taking. They were defined as being regular if they took an aspirin, NSAID or acetaminophen once a week. The use of medication was organized by dose, how long the medicine was taken, and how often it was taken. The researchers modified the results for age, body mass index, race, use of oral contraceptives, a family history of breast or ovarian cancer and how many times the women gave birth. Carlo Maley, the director for the University of California, San Francisco’s Center for Evolution and Cancer and the author of a study about aspirin and Barrett’s esophagus, said that cancers are evolutionary processes and that NSAIDs look like they could be a way of lowering mutation rate and slowing down the process of tissues developing into cancer.
Out of the 7,776 patients who had invasive ovarian cancer and 11,843 who did not have cancer, 18 percent reported that they took aspirin, 16 percent reported they took acetaminophen regularly and 24 percent reported they took NSAIDs daily. The results of the study showed that a daily dose of aspirin can be connected to reducing the risk for ovarian cancer. Out of the seven studies that examined the frequency of aspirin use, the daily dose of aspirin was associated with a 20 percent decrease in the risk for ovarian cancer. In three of the studies that discussed information on doses, a low dose or no less than 100 milligrams a day of aspirin was linked to a 34 percent decrease in the risk for ovarian cancer. In three studies that examined dose information found that a high dose or at least 500 milligrams of NSAIDs reduced person’s risk for ovarian cancer by 24 percent. The results did not indicate a connection between acetaminophen and a risk for ovarian cancer either when it was considered based on different levels of frequency, duration and dose or overall.
The study that examined if a person’s risk for ovarian cancer can be lowered with aspirin, NSAIDs, and acetaminophen had a reason behind the study. Doherty said that by combining the studies they were able to have a more powerful examination of the factors, such as the use of aspirin, that might have both modest and important effects. She also explained that researchers started examining aspirin because it is associated with reducing inflammation and that ovulation can cause inflammation. Doherty further explained by saying that inflammation is normally connected to many types of cancer and that ovulation is connected to an increased risk for ovarian cancer.
A recent study examined the link between the risk for ovarian cancer and certain medications. Doherty and her colleagues wanted to see if a person’s risk for ovarian cancer could be lowered with aspirin, acetaminophen and NSAIDs. After Doherty and her colleagues studied seven cases that examined the frequent use of aspirin, they found that aspirin was linked to a 20 percent decrease of the risk for ovarian cancer. The study also looked at three cases that discussed dosing information, they found that people who took a low dose aspirin had a 34 percent decrease in their risk for ovarian cancer. It also examined three cases that looked at dose information that showed people who took a high doses of non-aspirin NSAIDs had a 24 percent decrease in the risk for ovarian cancer. The authors of an editorial that accompanied the study suggest that they do not know when doctors should tell patients to take an aspirin to prevent ovarian cancer. The authors also suggest that even though aspirin can be beneficial to women with a high risk for ovarian cancer, a medical doctor should evaluate both the risks and benefits of any long-term medication.
By Jordan Bonte