According to the researchers, there’s increasing evidence that inflammation plays a role in the development of cancer and can worsen outcomes. Medications, such as aspirin and non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — including ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) — have already been shown to lower the risk of certain types of cancers, most notably colon cancer.
But do these drugs have a role to play against ovarian tumors?
To find out, researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., pooled data from 13 studies from around the world. The studies included more than 750,000 women and asked them about their use of aspirin and NSAIDs. The researchers then tracked these women to see who developed ovarian cancer — more than 3,500 women did.
According to the report published July 18 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, taking daily aspirin reduced the risk of ovarian cancer by 10 percent.
“This study gives us a new perspective on whether aspirin and non-aspirin NSAIDs can impact cancer risk. Not only does it look at ovarian cancer, which hasn’t been studied before, our sample size is three-quarter of a million women who were followed for several decades,” Shelley Tworoger, senior study author and associate center director for population science at the Moffitt Cancer Center, said in a center news release.
“The results of the study support that aspirin can reduce ovarian cancer risk, but further studies will need to be performed before a recommendation of daily aspirin can be made,” Tworoger added.
In a second study, researchers from the University of Hawaii in Honolulu and the Moffitt Cancer Center used the Nurses’ Health Studies to collect data on nearly 1,000 women already diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
The investigators found that women who used aspirin and non-aspirin NSAIDs after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer experienced as much as a 30 percent improvement in survival.
The results of the study were published in the journal The Lancet Oncology.
Kramer added that “since aspirin has anti-inflammatory properties and is a relatively well-tolerated medication with few side effects, seeking its benefits for this deadly disease makes a great deal of sense.”