Doctors have long recommended a low dose of aspirin as part of the daily regimen for many of their patients who have had a heart attack or stroke or are at an increased risk for them. Now there is research indicating that it may be beneficial for reducing your risk of developing another disease – ovarian cancer. It’s a simple step that can have a big impact – as much as a 23 percent reduction in your risk of developing the most deadly of gynecological cancers.
The Washington Post reported that the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology published the findings that were based on a study conducted with 205,498 women. Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School looked at women who took low-dose aspirin (generally 81 milligrams), standard-dose aspirin (325 milligrams), acetaminophen, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that don’t include aspirin (like ibuprofen and naproxen). Over a span of over 20 years, 1,054 of the women developed ovarian cancer. The women taking a low dose of aspirin more than two times a week had a 23 percent lower chance of developing cancer while there was no apparent reduced risk for those taking a standard dose of aspirin or acetaminophen. Surprisingly, results also seemed to indicate that heavy usage of NSAIDs may increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Over 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer will be reported this year in the United States. Over 14,000 women will die of ovarian cancer, making it the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women in the U.S. It’s a disease that often has no symptoms in its early stages. By the time a woman has symptoms, the cancer has often spread. For this and other reasons, physicians stress the importance of annual pelvic exams for women starting at age 21 or when they become sexually active, whichever happens first.
Fortune reported that this is not the first study showing a possible preventive role for aspirin in the development of cancer. Previous studies have indicated that it may also be preventive in the development of colorectal cancer and liver cancer.
Aspirin intake is not recommended for everyone. There are many other factors that must be considered when deciding whether or not to add low-dose aspirin to your daily regimen, and it’s recommended that you discuss those factors with your doctor. In particular, the possible increased risk of bleeding can make it an inappropriate choice for people with certain health conditions or histories.
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