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Regular Aspirin Use May Reduce Ovarian Cancer Risk

NIH researchers see benefits of aspirin and nonapsirin NSAIDs (February 6)

Women who take aspirin daily may reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by 20%, according to a study by scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health. However, further research is needed before clinical recommendations can be made.

The study was published February 6 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Previous studies have suggested that the anti-inflammatory properties of aspirin and nonaspirin NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may reduce cancer risk overall. However, studies examining whether the use of these agents may influence ovarian cancer risk have been largely inconclusive.

The investigators analyzed data pooled from 12 large epidemiologic studies to determine whether women who used aspirin, nonaspirin NSAIDs, or acetaminophen have a lower risk of ovarian cancer. The scientists evaluated the benefit of these drugs in nearly 8,000 women with ovarian cancer and in close to 12,000 women who did not have the disease.

Among study participants who reported whether or not they used aspirin regularly, 18% used aspirin; 24% used nonaspirin NSAIDs; and 16% used acetaminophen. The researchers determined that participants who reported daily aspirin use had a 20% lower risk of ovarian cancer than had those who used aspirin less than once per week.

For nonaspirin NSAIDs, the picture was less clear: the scientists observed a 10% lower ovarian cancer risk among women who used NSAIDs at least once per week compared with those who used NSAIDs less frequently. However, this finding was not statistically significant.

In contrast to the findings for aspirin and NSAIDs, the use of acetaminophen, which is not an anti-inflammatory agent, was not associated with a reduced risk for ovarian cancer.

Source: NIH; February 6, 2014.

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