Women who regularly use aspirin may have a decreased risk of developing serous ovarian cancer, according to the results of a study published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica.
Ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate of all gynecologic cancers. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women, with an estimated 21,550 new cases and 14,600 deaths in 2009. Serous ovarian cancer is an aggressive type of cancer that affects the surface of the ovary and accounts for about 40 percent of ovarian cancers. Ovarian cancer is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer” because it often goes undetected until it has reached an advanced stage and has therefore become difficult to treat. Therefore, any potential preventive strategies are valuable in the fight against this disease.
Researchers from Denmark conducted a population-based, case-control study that included 756 Danish women with epithelial ovarian cancer, classified by type: 447 serous, 138 mucinous, 171 other types. A random sample of 1,564 women between the ages of 35 and 79 were drawn from the general population to serve as the control group. The researchers conducted personal interviews to determine the use of painkillers, including aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
The results indicated that women who took aspirin on a regular basis had a statistically significant reduced risk of serous ovarian cancer, but not other types of ovarian cancer. Notably, other types of painkillers—such as non-aspirin NSAIDs or acetaminophen—did not confer the same risk reduction.
The researchers concluded that regular aspirin use could reduce the risk of serous ovarian cancer. Further research will be necessary to confirm this relationship.
Ammundsen HB, Faber MT, Jensen A, et al. Use of analgesic drugs and risk of ovarian cancer: results from a Danish case–control study. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica. 2012; 91(9): 1094-1102.
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