Baby aspirin linked to reduced ovarian cancer, study finds |

Baby aspirin linked to reduced ovarian cancer, study finds

A study published last month offers some new hope for helping prevent ovarian cancer — in the form of a baby aspirin — and may add to the growing body of evidence that inflammation plays a role in the disease. But researchers caution that more study is needed.

Ovarian cancer, the fifth most common cause of cancer-related death among women in this country, “is a high-fatality cancer, primarily because it’s usually diagnosed at a later stage,” says Marian Neuhouser of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. There’s no diagnostic test for it and symptoms are maddeningly nonspecific, which makes preventing it from developing even more vital.

The study, led by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and published in the journal JAMA Oncology, found that women who had been recently taking low-dose (or baby) aspirin at least twice per week were 23 percent less likely to develop ovarian cancer than nonusers or past users. The results were based on data from more than 200,000 women followed for more than 25 years as part of the Nurses’ Health Study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. An earlier study had found that almost daily aspirin use could reduce ovarian cancer risk by 10 percent.

Interestingly, in the Harvard study, use of standard-dose aspirin didn’t appear to affect ovarian cancer risk. Use of acetaminophen also didn’t seem to have an effect. However, long-term use of non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, were associated with increased risk.

The differing results and possibility of statistical anomalies raise questions that will need to be explored in future research. But because aspirin is known to lower inflammation, authors of the study believe their results bolster the theory that inflammation is a culprit in ovarian cancer. Inflammation occurs with ovulation, and it can also be chronic, because of environmental pollutants, harmful lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, and some health conditions.

Does this mean that women who don’t already take low-dose aspirin should start? Not necessarily, said Mollie Barnard, who led the study as a doctoral fellow in epidemiology at Harvard. “If future studies confirm our findings, conversations between doctors and patients on the risks and benefits of low-dose aspirin use may broaden to include ovarian cancer prevention.”

Carrie Dennett is a registered dietitian nutritionist, owner of Nutrition by Carrie and a contributing writer for
The Washington Post.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.