Women who regularly take aspirin may have a reduced risk of ovarian cancer, according to study results recently presented at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists.
Ovarian cancer is a common malignancy, with about 25,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States each year. Ovarian cancer has been called the “silent killer” because it begins deep in the pelvis and often does not cause any symptoms until it has reached advanced stages. As a result, ovarian cancer is often initially diagnosed when it has already reached a stage where it is incurable.
Epithelial ovarian cancer is the most common ovarian cancer and originates in the cells that cover the surface of a woman’s ovary. Factors that cause chronic inflammation of the ovarian epithelium, such as ovarian endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease, have been associated with an increased risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. Researchers have speculated that reducing this inflammation could reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
In this study, researchers examined the relationship between the most common anti-inflammatory drug, aspirin, and the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. The study enrolled 748 healthy women who were followed for 12 years. Upon enrollment, the women answered questions regarding many topics including aspirin use. The women provided additional information regarding aspirin use in 2 follow-up questionnaires during the 12-year period. After 12 years, 70 women had developed epithelial ovarian cancer.
The researchers found that women who had reported regular aspirin use had significantly lower incidence of epithelial ovarian cancer compared with women who reported no aspirin use. The results indicated that women who took aspirin three or more times a week for at least six months were 40% less likely to develop ovarian cancer than women who did not use aspirin.
While the results of this study are promising, individuals should exercise caution with aspirin intake. More research is needed among larger groups to confirm the relationship between aspirin use and a reduced risk of ovarian cancer. In the meantime, women concerned with reducing their risk of ovarian cancer may wish to avoid risk factors such as fertility drugs and a high-fat diet. In addition, research indicates that the use of oral contraceptives may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 50%. For more information about the prevention of ovarian cancer, refer to Ovarian Screening and Prevention. (
Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, 32nd Annual Meeting, March 2-7, 2001)