Dr. Stefano Bonovas and fellow doctors of the University of Athen’s pharmacy department reported in British Journal of Clinical Pharmacy that women who take acetaminophen, an ingredient found in Tylenol and other painkillers, could lower the risk of ovarian cancer in women by 30 percent.
Bonovas collected 8 studies between 1998 and 2004 on the topic of ovarian cancer. Six of the studies were from the United States, with one from the United Kingdom and Denmark. These studies involved between 10 and 1,500 ovarian cancer patients and many groups of women without ovarian cancer.
Although a link between lowering the risk of ovarian cancer and acetaminophen has been found, Bonovas and his colleagues are not encouraging women to start taking extra amounts of the over-the-counter drug just yet. The doctors believe more research and information has to be collected before a public health recommendation is made.
Ovarian cancer is the most fatal gynecological cancer because doctors and gynecologists do not have decent screening methods for the cancer in its early and most treatable stages. It is the 8th most common cancer in women, and it is expected that 15,00 ovarian cancer deaths will occur in women in 2006. It is mostly common in caucasian women over 55, and 1 in 67 women will get ovarian cancer.
None of the studies used acetaminophen directly, but it was observed in women who took painkillers on a regular basis. The same results were not found in women who used painkillers irregularly.
Because the studies had such different subjects and variables, the doctors are only drawing observations and not full conclusions from the studies. Instead, more studies directly using acetaminophen must be conducted.