A new study suggests that aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen may help protect against skin cancer. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings indicate that skin cancer prevention may be added to the benefits of these common pain relievers.
Previous studies suggest that taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, which include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, as well as a variety of other nonprescription and prescription drugs, can decrease an individual’s risk of developing some types of cancer.
Sigrún Alba Jóhannesdóttir, B.Sc., of Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, and her colleagues analyzed medical records from northern Denmark from 1991 through 2009 and identified 1,974 diagnoses of squamous cell carcinoma, 13,316 diagnoses of basal cell carcinoma, and 3,242 diagnoses of malignant melanoma. They compared information, including prescription data, from these patients with information from 178,655 individuals without skin cancer.
Individuals who filled more than two prescriptions for NSAIDs had a 15 percent decreased risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma and a 13 percent decreased risk for developing malignant melanoma than those who filled two or fewer prescriptions for the medications, especially when the drugs were taken for seven or more years or taken at high intensity.
Individuals who took NSAIDs did not seem to benefit from a reduced risk of developing basal cell carcinoma in general, although they did have a 15 percent and 21 percent reduced risk of developing this type of cancer on less-exposed sites (body areas other than the head and neck) when they took them long term or at high intensity, respectively.
“We hope that the potential cancer-protective effect of NSAIDs will inspire more research on skin cancer prevention,” said Ms. Jóhannesdóttir. “Also, this potential cancer-protective effect should be taken into account when discussing benefits and harms of NSAID use.”
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Source Article: “Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and the risk of skin cancer: A population-based case-control study.” Sigrún Alba Jóhannesdóttir, Ellen T. Chang, Frank Mehnert, Morten Schmidt, Anne Braae Olesen, Henrik Toft Sørensen. CANCER; Published Online: May 29, 2012 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.27406).