By Riva Preil
It is estimated that approximately 20,000 women will develop ovarian cancer in 2014. The prognosis for approximately 75% of those women is very poor because the disease is often only first detected during its late stages. The reason for this is that during the initial stages, ovarian cancer mimics gastrointestinal upset and bladder disorders, and the disease is often misdiagnosed (or altogether undiagnosed) for a significant amount of time. One of the risk factors associated with the development of cancer is chronic inflammation. Therefore, much research has focused on the connection between anti-inflammatory medications and cancer risk. The proposed theory is that if chronic inflammation is correlated with the development of the disease, perhaps anti-inflammatory medication is correlated with prevention of cancer.
Aspirin is classically known as a salicylate drug, an analgesic used to relieve minor aches and pains and to reduce inflammation. It has also become accepted in the medical field as a prophylactic approach to prevent heart attack, and it has additionally been linked with decreased risk of colorectal cancer and other malignancies. And if that wasn’t enough, the most recent research suggests that routine aspirin usage may decrease the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
The Journal of National Cancer Institute published this research on February 6, 2014. The study analyzed data that was collected from 12 other studies, and it compared individuals who regularly used aspirin (18% of participants), non-aspirin NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, 24% of participants), and acetaminophen (16% of participants). The researchers concluded that individuals who used aspirin daily had a 20% decreased risk of developing ovarian cancer than those who used aspirin less than once a week. There was no statistically significant finding amongst the non-aspirin NSAID users. Acetaminophen, a non-anti-inflammatory medication, is not associated with decreased risk of developing ovarian cancer. While the findings of this study point positively towards promoting aspirin usage, please bear in mind that adverse side effects of daily aspirin include hemorrhagic stroke and upper gastrointestinal bleeding! Therefore, make sure to discuss using this medication (as any other medication) with your doctor to determine whether or not it is appropriate for you.