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Study: Taking aspirin could lower ovarian cancer risk

Union Leader Correspondent

February 18. 2014 8:05PM

LEBANON — A recent study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggests that taking a daily aspirin could lower the risk of ovarian cancer in women

Jennifer A. Doherty, PhD, a member of Norris Cotton Cancer Center’s Cancer Epidemiology and Chemoprevention Research program, said on Tuesday that the report combines multiple studies through the international Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium, some that started as far back as 1992.

“By putting twelve studies together we were able to include over 7,776 cases and 11,843 comparable cancer free women,” Doherty said.

Combining the studies allows for more powerful examinations of factors, like aspirin use, that may have modest but important effects, Doherty said.

Researchers first started studying aspirin use because of its association with inflammation reduction and because ovulation causes inflammation, Doherty said.

“Inflammation is thought to be associated with several types of cancers,” Doherty said. “Ovulation, the number of times a woman ovulates in her life, is linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.”

According to Doherty the research found a 20 percent reduced risk of ovarian cancer associated with daily aspirin use. The findings, though, should continue to be studied, she said.

In releasing the study the researchers are not recommending aspirin use for chemoprevention of ovarian cancer, Doherty said.

“Ovarian cancer is pretty rare so the benefits of preventing a rare disease would have to be countered by very few costs,” Doherty said.

A doctor may recommend to a patient with a heart condition to take a low dose of aspirin daily, while the same regimen could be harmful to a stroke victim, additionally aspirin can cause stomach bleeding in some people, Doherty said. Always consult your doctor, she said.

“Because of the risks of taking daily aspirin, these findings should not influence clinical practice, but can be considered along with other studies in risk-benefit evaluations of aspirin use,” she said.

According to Doherty, “Ovarian cancer is typically diagnosed at an advanced stage with little chance for cure. It is the leading cause of death from gynecologic malignancy, but because it is relatively rare, population-based screening is not recommended.”

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