HEALTH

Study: Daily aspirin use may reduce risk of ovarian cancer by 20%

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Women who take aspirin daily may reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by 20%, according to a study by scientists at the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. 

The study was published Feb. 6 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Previous studies have suggested that the anti-inflammatory properties of aspirin and non-aspirin NSAIDs, may reduce cancer risk overall. However, studies examining whether use of these agents may influence ovarian cancer risk have been largely inconclusive. This is the largest study to date to assess the relationship between these drugs and ovarian cancer risk. 

Britton Trabert and Nicolas Wentzensen of NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, and their colleagues, analyzed data pooled from 12 large epidemiological studies to investigate whether women who used aspirin, non-aspirin NSAIDs or acetaminophen have a lower risk of ovarian cancer. These 12 studies (nine from the United States) were part of the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium. The scientists evaluated the benefit of these drugs in nearly 8,000 women with ovarian cancer and close to 12,000 women who did not have the disease.

Among study participants who reported whether or not they used aspirin regularly: 18% used aspirin, 24% used non-aspirin NSAIDs and 16% used acetaminophen. The researchers determined that participants who reported daily aspirin use had a 20% lower risk of ovarian cancer than those who used aspirin less than once per week. For non-aspirin NSAIDs, which include a wide variety of drugs, the picture was less clear: The scientists observed a 10% lower ovarian cancer risk among women who used NSAIDs at least once per week compared with those who used NSAIDs less frequently. However, this finding did not fall in a range that was significant statistically. 

In contrast to the findings for aspirin and NSAIDs, use of acetaminophen, which is not an anti-inflammatory agent, was not associated with reduced ovarian cancer risk.

This study adds to a growing list of malignancies, such as colorectal and other cancers, that appear to be potentially preventable by aspirin usage. “Our study suggests that aspirin regimens, proven to protect against heart attack, may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer as well. However intriguing our results are, they should not influence current clinical practice. Additional studies are needed to explore the delicate balance of risk-benefit for this potential chemopreventive agent, as well as studies to identify the mechanism by which aspirin may reduce ovarian cancer risk,” Trabert said.

Adverse side effects of daily aspirin use include upper gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke. Therefore, a daily aspirin regimen should only be undertaken with a doctor’s approval, the scientists cautioned.

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Survey: About half of Americans with GI issues concerned about side effects

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — As many as 86% of Americans have experienced some type of GI or digestive issue in the past year, but according to recent Mintel research, some 40% of those who suffer from gastrointestinal issues are concerned about the side effects associated with them, the company reported Friday.

Suggesting further consumer reluctance about using gastrointestinal remedies, 38% of sufferers agree that they only use them when absolutely necessary. Despite the preponderance of gastrointestinal issues in the United States, sales of antacids and laxatives declined by 2.5% from 2011 to 2013 and are expected to remain mostly flat through 2018.

"The prevalence of gastrointestinal issues suggests that the market of products to treat these issues is prime for growth," said Emily Krol, health and wellness analyst at Mintel. "However, American consumers appear to be taking a more proactive stance to their health and looking to prevent issues rather than treat them."

Indeed, some 29% of consumers say they have changed their diet to add more yogurt and fiber-rich foods to manage their digestive health and nearly a quarter (24%) have changed their diet to eliminate problem foods that aggravate digestive issues. Meanwhile, 22% have tried exercising more, 17% have lost weight and 13% have started taking regular probiotics, all in an effort to manage their gastrointestinal problems.

Gastrointestinal troubles can have a huge impact on consumers’ daily lives, with 41% of Americans who have experienced gastrointestinal issues stating that the pain associated with them is "often unbearable." Meanwhile, 64% say that it’s frustrating when gastrointestinal problems get in the way of things they want to do, and 36% agree that suffering from gastrointestinal issues makes them feel unattractive.

"Gastrointestinal issues can be frustrating to those who suffer from them," Krol said. "To alleviate consumer concerns, brands can help consumers feel comfortable and confident that OTC GI remedies will help them to feel better quickly. Positioning products as part of an overall healthy lifestyle will contribute to success in this market."

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CDC: Flu activity remains elevated

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — According to last week’s FluView report, released Friday, influenza activity remains elevated nationally. Flu activity is likely to continue for several more weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded.

For the week of Jan. 26 through Feb. 1, the national proportion of people seeing their healthcare provider for influenza-like illness decreased slightly for the fifth week, but remains above the national baseline. All 10 regions continue to report ILI activity above their region-specific baseline level. 

Seven states experienced high ILI activity (Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia); a decrease from the 10 states with high ILI activity last week. Twelve states experienced moderate ILI activity.

 

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