Taking aspirin lowers risk of ovarian cancer, new study claims

Low-dose daily aspirin lowers a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer, according to new research published in the journal JAMA Oncology.

The study, co-led by the Moffitt Cancer Centre, found that women who reported taking a low-dose aspirin every day had a 23 per cent lower risk of ovarian cancer compared to nonaspirin users.

The research also found that women who were heavy users of nonaspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, over a long period of time had a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is the most fatal gynaecological cancer, largely due to lack of early detection strategies. It is believed that inflammation that occurs during ovulation plays a role in the development of this cancer. But anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin, have been shown to lower the risk of certain types of cancers.

During this study, the researchers analysed data from more than 200,000 women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Studies based at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Of the participants, 1,054 developed ovarian cancer. Researchers looked at the participants’ use of aspirin (325 milligrams), low-dose aspirin (100 milligrams or less), non-aspirin NSAIDs and acetaminophen.

Their analysis found that low-dose aspirin use was associated with a lower risk of ovarian cancer while standard-dose aspirin use was not. Conversely, the data showed that women who took non-aspirin NSAIDs often, defined by at least 10 tablets per week for many years, had an increased risk of developing the disease.

The study’s lead author said: ‘We’re not quite at the stage where we could make the recommendation that daily aspirin use lowers ovarian cancer risk. We need to do more research. But it is definitely something women should discuss with their physician.’