Low-dose aspirin and ovarian cancer risk

Research we're watching

Published: January, 2019

Image: © Robert Kirk/Getty Images

Anti-inflammatory medications may play a role in ovarian cancer risk. A study by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that taking low-dose aspirin regularly appears to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by 23%. However, long-term heavy use of ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) seems to increase risk.

The study, published online October 4 by JAMA Oncology, looked at data on more than 200,000 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study and Nurses' Health Study II. Among the group studied, 1,054 women went on to develop ovarian cancer. Researchers then looked at what type of medications the women took on a regular basis. They found that women who took at least 10 doses of NSAIDs a week for multiple years had an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Women who took low-dose aspirin regularly seemed to have a reduced risk — but the same was not true among women who took a standard-dose aspirin.

Future research will seek to determine if certain women would benefit from starting a low-dose aspirin to prevent ovarian cancer.

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