Low-dose aspirin helps fight off ovarian cancer

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Something as tiny as an aspirin could protect women from developing one of the most deadly cancers.

Ovarian cancer is the most fatal gynecological cancer because it lacks early detection strategies. But something that’s already sitting on your medicine cabinet shelf might be a step in the right direction for some women.

Carla Jimenez feels lucky every day that she’s alive. She’s playing with Bruno and she beat Stage 3 ovarian cancer.

“I have been very fortunate," Carla said.

Now, a new study could help prevent women from getting ovarian cancer in the first place. It all has to do with an over-the-counter low-dose aspirin.

“And that’s where we found the really striking findings,” said Dr. Shelley Tworoger, of Moffitt Cancer Center.

Tworoger found that women who took low-dose aspirin every day had a 23 percent lower risk of ovarian cancer compared to non-aspirin users.

“But taking regular dose aspirin, 325 milligrams, was not associated with lower risk of ovarian cancer,” she said.

Her study also found that women who took 10 tablets per week for many years of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen had higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Tworoger said more research needs to be done to make an official recommendation, but since many women take aspirin to prevent heart disease, they could be ahead of the game.

“If we can sort of loop people in by talking about cardiovascular disease, we might have a secondary benefit of helping prevent ovarian cancer along the way,” she said.

And for survivors like Carla, she’s just glad to hear aspirin is now an ally.

“To have anything that could actually be preventative is really kind of revolutionary,” she said.

The study included 200,000 women. Of those, 1,054 developed ovarian cancer.

Tworoger says there can be health risks to taking daily low-dose aspirin. The primary risk is gastrointestinal bleeding, which can be a dangerous condition. Women should speak to their doctor before starting to take daily low-dose aspirin to make sure it is appropriate.

REPORT: MB #4512

BACKGROUND: Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries, often going undetected until it has spread to the pelvis and abdomen. By this late stage, it is often more difficult to treat and frequently fatal. Early-stage ovarian cancer, when the disease is confined to the ovary alone, is more likely to be successfully treated. Advanced-stage ovarian cancer may cause nonspecific symptoms that are often mistaken for more common conditions. Signs and symptoms may include; quickly feeling full when eating, abdominal bloating or swelling, weight loss, pelvic area discomfort, a change in bowel habits, and a frequent need to urinate. It is important to make an appointment to see your doctor if you have any worrying signs or symptoms. Discuss if you have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer, and talk to your doctor about your risks of developing ovarian cancer.
(Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ovarian-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20375941)

RISK AND PREVENTION: Factors that may increase your risk of ovarian cancer include getting older, being overweight or obese, having children later in life, never carrying a pregnancy to full term, using fertility treatments, taking hormone therapy after menopause, a family history of ovarian, breast, or colorectal cancer, having family cancer syndrome, having breast cancer, smoking tobacco, and alcohol use. Some risk factors cannot be avoided, while others can. You cannot prevent the aging process or a family history, but you might be able to lower your risk by maintaining a healthy weight or not taking hormone replacement therapy after menopause. Using oral contraceptives (birth control pills) also has been shown to decrease the risk of developing ovarian cancer for average risk women and BRCA mutation carriers, especially among those who have used them for several years (5 or more = 50 percent lower risk compared to those who never used them). Birth control pills do come with some serious risks and side effects so consult with your doctor.
(Sources: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovarian-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html

NEW STUDY: Co-led by Moffitt Cancer Center, a new study found taking a low-dose aspirin daily may help women lower their risk of developing ovarian cancer. Those who reported taking one every day had a 23 percent lower risk of ovarian cancer when compared to the non-aspirin users. However, the research also discovered women who over a long period of time were heavy non-aspirin, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aleve or Advil had a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. JAMA Oncology published their findings online. These findings helped confirm research published earlier in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute; using data pooled from 13 different studies, including more than 750,000 women. It found that daily use of aspirin reduced ovarian cancer risk by 10 percent. Further research is needed before a recommendation can be made that daily aspirin use definitely lowers ovarian cancer risk, but it is something that should be discussed with your personal physician.
(Source: https://moffitt.org/newsroom/press-release-archive/2018/evidence-mounts-linking-aspirin-to-lower-risk-of-ovarian-cancer/)