An Aspirin a Day May Keep Ovarian Cancer Away

Low dose aspirin on a regular basis reduced ovarian cancer risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Beth Bolt, RPh Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Ovarian cancer is one of the most dangerous cancers of women's reproductive systems. However, a simple over-the-counter medication regimen may aid in preventing this cancer.

A recent study found that regular aspirin use reduced the risk of ovarian cancer in women.

The researchers discovered that the women who took daily low doses of aspirin had the lowest risk of ovarian cancer compared to the rest of the study population.

"Ask your doctor about taking over-the-counter medications regularly."

The lead author of this study was Britton Trabert, PhD, from the Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

This research included data from 12 previously published studies on the connection between ovarian cancer and the use of aspirin, non-aspirin NSAIDs and acetaminophen. All previous studies were published between 1992 and 2007.

The current research included 7,776 participants with ovarian cancer and 11,843 control participants without ovarian cancer.

Of the entire study population, 18 percent reported using aspirin regularly (at least once per week), 24 percent reported using non-aspirin NSAIDs regularly, and 16 percent reported using acetaminophen regularly.

Overall, the participants who reported regular aspirin use had a 9 percent decreased risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to participants who did not take aspirin regularly.

Seven of the studies included information on the specific frequency of use. The researchers found that the risk of ovarian cancer — as determined by these studies — was reduced by 20 percent for participants who used aspirin daily compared with participants who did not use aspirin daily.

Three of the studies focused on daily low-dose aspirin use of less than 100 milligrams per day. The findings of these studies revealed a 34 percent reduced risk of ovarian cancer associated with daily low-dose aspirin usage.

Dr. Trabert and team determined that regular usage of non-aspirin NSAIDs reduced the risk of ovarian cancer by 10 percent compared to the participants who did not take non-aspirin NSAIDs regularly; although, this finding was not statistically significant.

However, the participants who reported regularly using high-dose non-aspirin NSAIDs of 500 milligrams per day or more were 24 percent less likely to develop ovarian cancer compared to the participants who did not use high-dose non-aspirin NSAIDs daily.

The researchers determined that there was no significant association between regular acetaminophen use and the risk of ovarian cancer.

Further research is needed on the connection between ovarian cancer prevention and aspirin use.

The authors mentioned a few limitations of this study. First, medication use was self-reported. Second, the definition of regular use may have varied between study populations. Third, data on frequency of use and dosage were not provided. Lastly, the researchers did not know why the participants were taking each medication.

Because risks of daily aspirin can include side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke, the authors cautioned that a daily aspirin regimen should only be started after discussing it with a physician.

This study was published on February 5 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health provided funding.

Review Date: 
February 20, 2014
Last Updated:
February 24, 2014