Sure, most OTC painkillers can effectively knock out your cramps, headache, and many other pesky aches. But there may be an even better reason to pop those pillsÃ¢â‚¬”and make sure they contain aspirin: new research shows that regularly taking an aspirin-based pain reliever may reduce your risk of the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths among womenÃ¢â‚¬”ovarian cancer.
The recent Danish study of 2,320 women between the ages of 35 and 79 (including 756 with ovarian cancer of varying severity) found that women who took aspirin two or more times per week for longer than a month were less likely to develop ovarian cancer than those who typically took non-aspirin pain relievers, or none at all.
AspirinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cancer-fighting power comes from its anti-inflammatory effects, which reduce the chronic inflammation suspected to play a role in the development of cancer, says study author Susanne KrÃƒÂ¼ger KjÃƒÂ¦r, M.D., of the Danish Cancer Society Research Center and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Copenhagen University Hospital, both in Copenhagen, Denmark. So why were non-aspirin pain relieversÃ¢â‚¬”which may also reduce inflammationÃ¢â‚¬”found to be less effective at curbing cancer? Ã¢â‚¬Å“This may reflect differences in the way these drugs induce their effect on inflammation,Ã¢â‚¬Â says KjÃƒÂ¦r.
The medicine cabinet staple boasts even more beyond-the-label benefits. While the OTC drug wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t necessarily shield women from heart disease, it could help reduce menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s risk of heart attack. And for women ages 55 to 79, the U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends taking regular doses of the aspirin to stave off strokes. (Younger than 55? Strokes are more common than ever among younger women. HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s how to reduce your stroke risk.)
So are the virtues of aspirin reason enough to start popping pills as if theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re candy? KjÃƒÂ¦r says the protective effects should be balanced against possible adverse effects, such as risk of bleeding and peptic ulcers.
Want to slash your ovarian cancer risk the safe way? Begin with these tips.Ã‚Â
photo: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Thinkstock More from WH:
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