Regular paracetamol use could reduce ovarian cancer risk by almost a third

Jul 06, 2006

Using paracetamol regularly could reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by almost a third, according to a detailed analysis in the July issue of British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

A research team from Athens University found that the risk fell by up to 30 per cent when they analysed the results of major studies carried out on more than 746,000 women over a six-year period.

4,405 of the women in the eight major studies – from the USA, UK and Denmark – had ovarian cancer.

The team looked at all studies covering paracetamol and ovarian cancer from 1966 to 2004. These were then scrutinised using sophisticated meta-analysis techniques.

"Meta-analysis involves doing a large amount of research into what has been published, summarising the results and combining them using statistical methods" explains lead researcher Dr Stefanos Bonovas from the Greek Ministry of Health. "Analysing a wide range studies can often throw new light on a problem and raise new research questions.

"In this case our analysis of eight major studies – covering nearly three-quarters of a million women - revealed a strong correlation between paracetamol use and a reduced risk of ovarian cancer."

Seven of the studies looked at the links between paracetamol use and the incidence of ovarian cancer and the largest study looked at the link between paracetamol use and ovarian cancer deaths.

The researchers used a working definition of "regular use" as the highest frequency of drug use reported in the individual studies. This definition varied slightly between studies. In the largest study – which covered more than a third of the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer – it was defined as more than 30 tablets in the month before the study started.

"Ovarian cancer remains the most fatal gynaecological malignancy" says Dr Bonovas. "Its high mortality rate – mainly due to a combination of ineffective screening and the limited success of therapies for advanced disease - makes ovarian cancer a major health concern.

"Strategies that focus on prevention may therefore provide the most rational approach for reducing deaths from this form of cancer.

"Because paracetamol is so widely used, a link with a decreased risk of ovarian cancer could have important public health implications."

The authors believe that further research among women with a high risk of developing ovarian cancer would provide further clues to the drug's protective qualities.

"The risks of long-term paracetamol use - including liver and chronic kidney failure – may outweigh the potential benefits of preventing ovarian cancer in low-risk cases" concludes Dr Bonovas.

"However we believe that a randomised trial in women with a high risk of developing the disease might be appropriate. Further research is also needed into how this protective mechanism actually works.

The authors stress that they are not suggesting that women adopt this possible method of risk prevention at this stage.

"But we do feel that our study highlights the need for further research into this highly important link between a simple over-the-counter medicine and a very aggressive form of cancer" says Dr Bonovas.

Source: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Explore further: MSF fighting cholera outbreak in Tanzania refugee camps

Related Stories

Steroid links fat accumulation with egg development

Mar 19, 2015

Nutrition and metabolism are closely linked with reproductive health. Several reproductive disorders including polycystic ovary syndrome, amenorrhea, and ovarian cancer have been linked to malnutrition, diabetes, ...

Baby cells learn to communicate using the lsd1 gene

Dec 15, 2014

We would not expect a baby to join a team or participate in social situations that require sophisticated communication. Yet, most developmental biologists have assumed that young cells, only recently born ...

Discovery of a primordial cancer in a primitive animal

Jun 24, 2014

Every year around 450,000 people in Germany are diagnosed with cancer. Each one of them dreams of a victory in the battle against it. But can cancer ever be completely defeated? Researchers at Kiel University ...

Recommended for you

MSF fighting cholera outbreak in Tanzania refugee camps

6 hours ago

Medical charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) said Sunday it had launched emergency treatment centres in Tanzania, where thousands of Burundians fleeing unrest have been hit by cholera.

Cognitive impairment predicts worse outcome in heart failure

7 hours ago

Cognitive impairment predicts worse outcome in elderly heart failure patients, reveals research presented today at Heart Failure 2015 by Hiroshi Saito, a physiotherapist at Kameda Medical Centre in Kamogawa, Japan. Patients ...

Bacteria blamed in indigenous Mexican baby deaths

May 23, 2015

Bacteria—and not a contaminated vaccine as initially suspected—were to blame for the recent deaths of two Mexican babies and for sickening 29 others, according to an official investigation.

German woman, 65, gives birth to quadruplets

May 23, 2015

A 65-year-old teacher from Berlin has given birth to quadruplets after a pregnancy that was widely criticized by medical professionals because of her age, RTL television said Saturday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.