Taking aspirin twice a week reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by 10%

Taking aspirin every day reduces a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer by 10% AND boosts patient survival by 30%: Painkiller lowers inflammation that causes tumours to develop

  • Aspirin prevents blood clots, which have been associated with cancer growth
  • Painkiller makes women 15% less likely to have tumours on their ovaries’ surface
  • This is thought to be due to such tumours being more linked to inflammation 
  • One in 78 women in the US and 52 in the UK will develop ovarian cancer
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Taking aspirin every day reduces a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer by 10 per cent, new research suggests.

In addition, when such cancer sufferers take the painkiller as little as twice a week, their survival chances are boosted by 30 per cent, another study found.  

Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory drug, which may help to prevent DNA damage that causes tumour development, according to both of the US researchers.

The medication also prevents blood clots, which have been associated with ovarian cancer growth and reduced survival rates, they add.

One in 78 women in the US and 52 in the UK develop ovarian cancer at some point in their lives.

Taking aspirin every day reduces a women’s risk of ovarian cancer by 10 per cent (stock)

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Ovarian cancer can affect babies, young girls and teenagers in one or both of their ovaries. 

These account for one percent of all tumours in girls between birth and 17 years old.

In girls under eight, four in five ovarian tumours are non-cancerous.

In children, ovarian tumours have a much higher cure rate than adult forms of the disease.

Symptoms may include: 

  • Pressure, pain or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen
  • Frequent urination or being unable to do so
  • Nausea and vomiting

Ovarian tumours in girls under eight may cause them to release oestrogen, leading to breast growth, pubic hair and vaginal discharge or bleeding.

In many cases the cause of the tumour is unclear but may be related to genetic mutations or a family history of the disease. 

Treatment depends on the tumour’s size and whether it affects the ovaries’ surface, or cells that produce eggs or hormones. 

Surgery is usually required to remove the tumour. Chemo and radiotherapy may also be necessary. 

Patients may also have to have their ovaries removed.

Source: Dana-Farber Boston Children’s 

How the research was carried out 

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute and Moffitt Cancer Center analysed a a total of 758,829 women from 13 studies.

Medical records were examined to determine any cancer diagnoses, while the women’s painkiller use was collected via questionnaires.

The results were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In a second study, scientists from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center analysed a total of 238,129 participants from two Nurses’ Health Studies.

The nurses completed questionnaires every two years, between 1976 and 1989, to determine their aspirin, and other painkiller, use.

Ovarian cancer cases were monitored via the participants’ medical records and death certificates.

Of the participants, 1,789 were diagnosed with ovarian cancer during the study period. These findings were published in Lancet Oncology. 

Just one aspirin twice a week could help patients beat cancer 

Results suggest women with ovarian cancer who start taking between one and five aspirin tablets on two-to-five days a week are more likely to beat the disease.   

Cancer sufferers who switch their painkiller of choice from paracetamol to aspirin boost their chances of surviving the disease, with paracetamol itself not improving ovarian cancer survival.

Findings further suggest women who take aspirin every day after 15 per cent less likely to develop tumours that affect their ovaries’ surface. This may be due to such tumours being more associated with inflammation.

Although a daily dose of aspirin reduces women’s risk of ovarian cancer, taking the drug every day for 10 years or more may actually make them more likely to develop the disease. It is unclear why this occurs. 

Both of the studies’ researchers believe their findings could open up treatment options for ovarian-cancer patients, however, they add further investigation is required to determine the drug’s optimal dose and administration timing.

The scientists add it is also unclear exactly how aspirin works to prevent and help treat ovarian tumours.    

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