Aspirin use ups death risk in uterine cancer patients: study

WASHINGTON: Regular use of over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen may increase the risk of dying in patients with a type of uterine cancer by 66 per cent, a new study has warned.

Researchers from the Ohio State University in the US sought to understand the association of regular non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) use and the risk of dying from endometrial cancer among a cohort of more than 4,000 patients.

They found that regular NSAID use was associated with a 66 per cent increased risk of dying among women with Type 1 endometrial cancers, a typically less-aggressive form of the disease.

The association was statistically significant among patients who reported past or current NSAID use at the time of diagnosis, but it was strongest among patients who had used NSAIDs for more than 10 years in the past but had ceased use prior to diagnosis.

Use of NSAIDs was not associated with mortality from typically more aggressive, Type 2 cancers.

“There is a increasing evidence that chronic inflammation is involved in endometrial cancer and progression and recent data suggests that inhibition of inflammation through NSAID use plays a role,” said Theodore Brasky from Ohio State University.

“This study identifies a clear association that merits additional research to help us fully understand the biologic mechanisms behind this phenomenon,” said Brasky.

“Our finding was surprising because it goes against previous studies that suggest NSAIDs can be used to reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of developing or dying from certain cancers, like colorectal cancer,” Brasky added.

Researchers point out that information about specific dosages and NSAID use after surgery was not available in the current study, which represents a significant limitation.

“These results are intriguing and worthy of further investigation,” said David Cohn from Ohio State University.

“It is important to remember that endometrial cancer patients are far more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than their cancer so women who take NSAIDs to reduce their risk of heart attack – under the guidance of their physicians – should continue doing so,” said Cohn.

“While these data are interesting, there is not yet enough data to make a public recommendation for or against taking NSAIDS to reduce the risk of cancer-related death,” Cohn added.

The study appears in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.