Regular use of low-dose aspirin may the reduce risk of ovarian cancer, a new study suggests.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 205,000 American women and found that those who reported recent, regular use of low-dose aspirin (defined as 100 milligrams or less) had a 23 percent lower risk of developing ovarian cancer than those who did not regularly take aspirin.
The risk did not fall the longer women used low-dose aspirin.
Also, the study didn't prove that aspirin lowered cancer risk, just that there was an association. And taking standard-dose aspirin (325 milligrams) was not associated with a lower risk of ovarian cancer.
On the flip side, taking 10 or more tablets per week of non-aspirin NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, for a number of years may be associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer, the study authors said.
"What really differentiated this study from prior work was that we were able to analyze low-dose aspirin separately from standard-dose aspirin," said study leader Mollie Barnard, who conducted the research while a doctoral student at Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
"Our findings emphasize that research on aspirin use and cancer risk must consider aspirin dose," she added in a Harvard news release.
Barnard is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women. There's growing evidence that inflammation plays a role in the development of this cancer. It's believed that aspirin may lower ovarian cancer risk by reducing inflammation.
"More research is needed to figure out which women can benefit most from taking low-dose aspirin to reduce their risk of ovarian cancer," study senior author Shelley Tworoger, associate center director of population science at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., said in the news release. Moffitt scientists were involved in the study.