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Aspirin a day can reduce risk of ovarian cancer in some women

The painkiller is believed to block triggering proteins. It also douses inflammation - which plays a key role in ovarian cancer.


Young beautiful brunette taking an aspirin
(Via Shutterstock)

By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

An aspirin a day cuts the risk of ovarian cancer in women most likely to develop the disease, according to new research.

It could protect those with a family history of the disease - and carriers of the 'Angelina Jolie gene,' scientists say.

The painkiller is believed to block triggering proteins. It also douses inflammation - which plays a key role in ovarian cancer.

Lead author Dr. Britton Trabert, of the University of Utah, said: "Ovarian cancer is the most fatal gynecologic cancer.

"Most known risk factors of ovarian cancer - such as family history, mutations in the BRCA1 and 2 genes, and endometriosis - can't be modified."

The US team described the findings as "promising." It is an "actionable step" that vulnerable individuals may take.

Dr. Trabert said: "Daily, or almost daily, aspirin use was associated with a 13% reduction in ovarian cancer risk and we found that aspirin benefitted most subgroups.

"Importantly, this research provides further evidence that ovarian cancer chemoprevention with frequent aspirin use could benefit people in higher-risk subgroups."

Four years ago a Harvard University analysis of more than 200,000 women found
a daily low dose 75mg pill slashed case rates by about a quarter.

But individual studies have not been able to look at whether the drug benefits those at varying risk of disease.

Dr. Trabert said: "We pooled data from 17 studies, nine prospective cohort studies from the Ovarian Cancer Cohort Consortium, and eight case-control studies from the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium that included more than 8,300 cases.

"This gave us a more detailed and accurate look than if we used published data."

They were defined by specific risk factors like family history of breast or ovarian cancer, endometriosis where womb tissue grows around the ovaries, obesity, pregnancy, oral contraceptive use and sterilization where the fallopian tubes are tied.

Dr. Trabert said: "Aspirin use has been linked with major adverse events, including internal bleeding and stroke.

A senior woman holding a bottle of pills
(Photo by Air Images via Shutterstock)

"We wanted to evaluate whether aspirin could prevent ovarian cancer in people at higher risk.

"Since aspirin helped people who had two or more risk factors, we hope patients and clinicians can use this research to have an informed conversation when it comes to potential preventive measures.

"Individuals should consult their health care providers before beginning new medication in order to most appropriately balance any potential risks with the potential benefits."

Her research focuses on identifying strategies for the prevention or early detection of ovarian and womb cancers.

She earned a Department of Defense Investigator-Initiated Research Award for work on aspirin use and lower ovarian cancer rates.

Angelina Jolie had her breasts and ovaries removed after learning she carries a faulty copy of the BRCA1 gene.

Ovarian cancer is known as "the silent killer." There are few distinct symptoms until it is advanced.

Nine-in-10 women with early-stage disease survive, dropping to just one in ten if picked up late - one of the highest death rates of all cancers.

Ovarian cancer strikes 7,400 women in the UK annually, claiming more than 4,000 deaths a year. Swift diagnosis is key.

Currently only around a third of women are diagnosed early with the majority at later stages.

Aspirin has been used as a painkiller for thousands of years since the Ancient Egyptians found an extract of willow bark that helped mothers cope with childbirth.

But in recent years scientists have found the cheap drug, which costs less than 2p per tablet, has many more applications.

It is commonly prescribed by doctors in lower doses to prevent heart problems because it stops platelets in the blood from clumping together to form clots.

Low-dose aspirin has also been found to significantly reduce the risk of bowel cancer.
Experts advise people to consult their doctor before starting to take any drug.

Aspirin is a blood thinner. It comes with a risk of internal bleeding - particularly among people with certain conditions such as an abnormal heart rhythm.

It can cause stomach bleeds and ulcers that may require hospital treatment and in rare instances a stroke or a life-threatening hemorrhage.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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