Washington: Women who regularly use pain relief medications, particularly aspirin, have a decreased risk of serious ovarian cancer—an aggressive carcinoma affecting the surface of the ovary, a study has found.
But non-aspirin non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), paracetamol (acetaminophen), or other analgesics did not decrease ovarian cancer risk, the study revealed.
Ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynecological malignancy and the fifth-leading cause of death by cancer for women in developed countries.
“Ovarian cancer has a high mortality. Understanding what factors are involved in the development of this disease and investigating preventative interventions for women are vitally important,” said lead author Dr. Susanne Kjaer with the Danish Cancer Society Research Center.
“Our study examined the role of analgesics in development of ovarian cancer,” she stated.
For the present study, researchers used data from the malignant ovarian cancer (MALOVA) study, a population-based, case-control study investigating this cancer in Danish women between 1995 and 1999. The team analyzed data from 756 women with epithelial ovarian cancer, classified by type of glandular tumors (adenocarcinomas); 447 were serous, 138 were mucinous, and 171 were other types.
A random sample of 1564 women between the ages of 35 and 79 were drawn from the general population as controls. Personal interviews were conducted to determine analgesic drug use.
Findings indicate that women taking aspirin on a regular basis decreased their risk of serous ovarian cancer. Researchers did not find a decrease in ovarian cancer risk in women who regularly used non-aspirin NSAIDs, acetaminophen, or other types of pain relievers.
“Our findings suggest a potential protective effect of analgesic use on ovarian cancer risk, but that benefit should be balanced against adverse effects of pain medication use, such as risk of bleeding and peptic ulcers,” Dr. Kjaer concluded.
The researchers recommend that larger studies, which accurately assess dosage, frequency and duration of pain medications, are necessary to understand the impact of analgesic use on ovarian cancer.
The study was published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, a journal of the Nordic Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology.