The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 22,000 women will receive a diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2018. Ovarian cancer is one of the top five cancer deaths in women. The risk of women getting ovarian cancer over the course of her lifetime is estimated to be about 1 in 78. Hearing these statistics can make ovarian cancer a fear for many women.
However, that fear may be less prominent due to a breakthrough in new research. Research suggests that women who take a low-dose of aspirin every day may lower their risk of developing ovarian cancer. However, this breakthrough does not come without its caveats. The standard-dose of aspirin, containing 325 milligrams, does not reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. The second caveat is that use of nonaspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen or naproxen, is associated with a heightened risk.
Aspirin is said to lower the risk of ovarian cancer by reducing inflammation. This idea came to fruition in the Nurses’ Health Study and Nurses’ Health Study II. These two long-term studies utilized questionnaires to track both the disease and health behavior in women. Out of the 205,498 women who participated, 1,054 women developed ovarian cancer. Of the women who developed ovarian cancer, researchers examined and compared how women who used aspirin, non-aspirin NSAIDs and acetaminophen differed from other participants.
The analysis revealed that women who used a low-dose aspirin for less than a year had a 23% lower risk when compared to women who didn’t take aspirin at all. However, the study showed no decrease in risk for women who used low-dose aspirin for five or more years or in women who used a normal dose (325 milligrams).
Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that in women who used non-aspirin NSAIDs, had a 19% increase of ovarian cancer. When NSAIDs were taken over the course of multiple years, the risk of Ovarian cancer increased to 34%. Although this percentage may want you to steer clear of NSAIDs, the increase was due to taking at least 10 tablets per week. When NSAIDs were used less than two days a week over the course of five or more years, there was not an increase to ovarian cancer.
Although the study has produced some promising results, scientists believe that further research is still necessary. Due to the limitations of the study, Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, believes that we should approach the findings with caution.
Eric J. Jacobs, a cancer epidemiologist and strategic director of pharmacoepidemiology at the American Cancer Society, believe that there is still little evidence linking aspirin to lowering the risk of cancers. He and healthcare professionals alike, urge that aspirin should not be taken in the hopes to prevent cancer.