Aspirin may decrease risk of aggressive form of ovarian cancer

October 9, 2012

New research shows that women who regularly use pain relief medications, particularly aspirin, have a decreased risk of serous ovarian cancer—an aggressive carcinoma affecting the surface of the ovary. The study published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, a journal of the Nordic Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology, reports that non-aspirin non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), paracetamol (acetaminophen), or other analgesics did not decrease ovarian cancer risk.

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynecological malignancy and the fifth-leading cause of death by cancer for women in developed countries. Previous studies report that Denmark has one of the highest incidence and at 11 and 7 per 100,000 women, respectively. According to the (CDC), each year 20,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, with 90% of cases occurring in women older than 40 years of age and the greatest number in those 60 years or older.

"Ovarian cancer has a high mortality. Understanding what factors are involved in the development of this disease and investigating preventative interventions for women are vitally important," said lead author Dr. Susanne Kjær with the Danish Cancer Society Research Center. "Our study examined the role of analgesics in development of ovarian cancer."

For the present study, researchers used data from the malignant ovarian cancer (MALOVA) study, a population-based, case-control study investigating this cancer in Danish women between 1995 and 1999. The team analyzed data from 756 women with epithelial ovarian cancer, classified by type of glandular tumors (adenocarcinomas); 447 were serous, 138 were mucinous, and 171 were other types. A random sample of 1564 women between the ages of 35 and 79 were drawn from the general population as controls. Personal interviews were conducted to determine analgesic drug use.

Findings indicate that women taking aspirin on a regular basis decreased their risk of serous ovarian cancer (odds ratio, OR=.60). Researchers did not find a decrease in ovarian cancer risk in women who regularly used non-aspirin NSAIDs, acetaminophen, or other types of pain relievers.

Dr. Kjær concludes, "Our findings suggest a potential protective effect of analgesic use on ovarian cancer risk, but that benefit should be balanced against adverse effects of pain medication use, such as risk of bleeding and peptic ulcers." The authors recommend that larger studies, which accurately assess dosage, frequency and duration of pain medications, are necessary to understand the impact of analgesic use on ovarian cancer.

In his editorial, also published in this month's issue, Dr. Magnus Westgren from Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden concurs with the study authors that strategies for preventing ovarian cancer are imperative. Dr. Westgren discusses preventive procedures such as bilateral salingectomy (BSE)—a removal of the fallopian tubes—in women at risk for ovarian cancer.

"If we informed women about the possibility of performing BSE at repeat cesarean section for prevention, it is likely that many would opt for this procedure," writes Dr. Westgren. He suggests that gynecology professionals discuss changing policies and setting up randomized trials to further understand how BSE could reduce ovarian .

Explore further: Study links endometriosis with increased risk of developing 3 specific types of ovarian cancer

More information: "Use of Analgesic Drugs and Risk Of Ovarian Cancer: Results from a Danish Case–Control Study." Henriette B. Ammundsen, Mette T. Faber, Allan Jensen, Estrid Høgdall, Jan Blaakær, Claus Høgdall and Susanne K. Kjær. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica; Published online: August 15, 2012 (DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0412.2012.01472.x).

"Editorial: "Prevention of Ovarian cancer – Let's Do Something." Magnus Westgren. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica; Published online: August 15, 2012 (DOI:10.1111/j.1600-0412.2012.01484.x).

Related Stories

Study links endometriosis with increased risk of developing 3 specific types of ovarian cancer

February 21, 2012
Women with a history of endometriosis are significantly more likely to develop three specific types of ovarian cancer (clear cell, endometrioid, and low-grade serous), according to an article published Online First in the ...

Researchers discover antibody that may help detect ovarian cancer in earliest stages

August 16, 2011
Using a new approach to developing biomarkers for the very early detection of ovarian cancer, researchers at Rush University Medical Center have identified a molecule in the bloodstream of infertile women that could one day ...

Recommended for you

Study prompts new ideas on cancers' origins

December 16, 2017
Rapidly dividing, yet aberrant stem cells are a major source of cancer. But a new study suggests that mature cells also play a key role in initiating cancer—a finding that could upend the way scientists think about the ...

What does hair loss have to teach us about cancer metastasis?

December 15, 2017
Understanding how cancer cells are able to metastasize—migrate from the primary tumor to distant sites in the body—and developing therapies to inhibit this process are the focus of many laboratories around the country. ...

Cancer immunotherapy may work better in patients with specific genes

December 15, 2017
Cancer cells arise when DNA is mutated, and these cells should be recognized as "foreign" by the immune system. However, cancer cells have found ways to evade detection by the immune system.

Scientists pinpoint gene to blame for poorer survival rate in early-onset breast cancer patients

December 15, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the University of Southampton has found that inherited variation in a particular gene may be to blame for the lower survival rate of patients diagnosed with early-onset breast cancer.

Scientists unlock structure of mTOR, a key cancer cell signaling protein

December 14, 2017
Researchers in the Sloan Kettering Institute have solved the structure of an important signaling molecule in cancer cells. They used a new technology called cryo-EM to visualize the structure in three dimensions. The detailed ...

'Bet hedging' explains the efficacy of many combination cancer therapies

December 14, 2017
The efficacy of many FDA-approved cancer drug combinations is not due to synergistic interactions between drugs, but rather to a form of "bet hedging," according to a new study published by Harvard Medical School researchers ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.