An aspirin a day can keep the doctor away. Nonsteroidal anti-inflamatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin and ibuprofen, have been found to help in preventing heart disease and colon cancer and now, researchers believe it can also help in preventing skin cancer. Dr. Berman, in a post “Skin Cancer Prevention and Your Medicine Cabinet” written back in 2008, discussed how some research showed that common pain medicine, such as aspirin may play a role in cancer prevention. According to Dr. Berman, “A preliminary study from Australia several years ago showed that those taking aspirin daily did indeed have fewer squamous cell carcinomas but there was no effect on other types of skin cancer…However, further research is needed as it is clear that aspirin and other similar medicines have anticancer effects. Again, many factors can lead to cancer so a certain dose of aspirin in a certain population may really help prevent skin cancer.”
Researchers in Denmark and the United States recently completed a study, published in the journal Cancer earlier this year showing that people taking common painkillers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, were less likely to develop skin cancer. Although the previous study Dr. Berman discussed only found a reduction in the rates of squamous cell carcinoma, this most recent study showed that there was also a lesser chance of developing malignant melanoma. Specifically, the study found:
- Those with more than two prescriptions of NSAIDs had a 15 percent lower chance of developing squamous cell carcinoma and a 13 percent lower chance of developing malignant melanoma than those with less than 2 prescriptions
- For those taking these medications more than 7 years, the link between the medications and skin cancer was even stronger
- As far as basal cell carcinoma, there did not seem to be less of a chance of developing this type of skin cancer overall, however, there was a reduced chance of developing it on parts of the body not normally exposed to the sun.
These types of drugs are thought to suppress inflammatory pathways and stimulate the tumor’s ability to develop blood supplies. The longer participants took the medications and the higher the dose, the greater chance of not developing skin cancer. For example, overall, those taking the medication had a 15 percent lower chance of developing squamous cell carcinoma but for those taking it longer and at higher doses, their risk was 35 percent lower.
Before deciding to take high doses of aspirin or ibuprofen on a daily basis, talk with your doctor. These medications can cause side effects, such as bleeding and dangerous ulcers in your digestive tract. You and your doctor will need to weigh the pros and cons of taking these medications and decide whether it is right for you.
“Aspirin May Guard Against Skin Cancer,” 2012, May 30, Staff Writer, Medical News Today
“Can Aspirin Help Ward Off Skin Cancer?” 2012, May 29, Alice Park, Time Magazine
Published On: September 21, 2012