Aspirin may protect against skin cancer

A new study published in the journal Cancer  says aspirin may help protect against skin cancer.

The study, based in Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, looked at the effect of aspirin and other commonly used painkillers — such as ibuprofen and naproxen — on three major types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma.

Researchers reviewed medical records of thousands of people living in Denmark from 1991 to 2009 with these specific types of cancer. The records also included information about the patients’ prescription drug use.

The results showed that those with more than two prescriptions for NSAIDs had a 13 to 15 per cent reduction in skin cancer risk than those with fewer prescriptions. This link became even stronger if the drugs had been taken regularly over 7 years or more.

This isn’t the first report we’ve seen on aspirin’s cancer fighting benefits.

Earlier this year, three studies published in Lancet found that taking daily aspirin could lower risk of colon, lung and prostate cancer by 46 per cent, when compared to those who don’t take aspirin.

Not only was it found to help prevent these cancers, but also to reduce the risk of the cancer reoccurring.

These studies were reassessments of data from previous long term studies where participants took low dose aspirin over a long period of time to study its heart and stroke prevention benefits. In these studies, they used the data to research who went on to develop cancer.

All the studies showed a large reduction in the risk for cancer.

Patients taking aspirin lowered their risk of cancer by a notable 25 per cent after five years, and also lowered their risk of dying by 15 per cent. After five years, their death risk dropped even more, by 37 per cent.

Another study showed that aspirin reduced the risk for developing cancer, as well as helped to prevent tumors from spreading.

Aspirin has been long thought to benefit people who have suffered a heart attack or stroke, but for those who are heart disease free, the debate about taking aspirin as a preventative measure continues.

The Archives of Internal Medicine recently published a review of nine clinical trials, which concluded that aspirin reduces the risk of heart attack for middle aged adults without diagnosed heart disease, but it did not protect against stroke or fatal heart attacks. Its limited benefits in protecting against non-fatal heart attacks were outweighed by its rare but dangerous side effects. Regular use of aspirin thins the blood, which can lead to an increased risk of bruising and bleeding problems, as well as digestive damage such as ulcers.

Sources: Cancer, Archives of Internal Medicine, Lancet, Medical News Today, The Telegraph, Forbes

Photo ©  fumumpa

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