Can an aspirin a day help keep skin cancer away? A new study suggests a link between the two.
Researchers from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark found that people taking aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, were less likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
For the skin cancer study, researchers examined all cancer cases in the Danish Cancer Registry from 1991 to 2009. They compared it to data from a prescription-drug database, which recorded patients’ histories of taking aspirin and NSAIDs.
The researchers found that those who filled more than two aspirin or NSAID prescriptions during the time period were 15% less likely to develop squamous cell skin cancer and 13% less likely to develop melanoma compared to those who filled two or fewer aspirin or NSAID prescriptions during the same time.
Those who took the drugs longer and at higher doses saw the greatest benefits. For instance, this type of usage lowered the risk of melanoma by 46% and of squamous cell carcinoma by 35%.
“Given the high skin cancer incidence and the widespread and frequent use of NSAIDs, a preventive effect of these agents may have important public health implications,” the researchers wrote in the study, which was published in the journal Cancer.
While there is growing evidence that taking aspirin regularly may lower your risk of cancer, always talk with your doctor before taking the drug, as it can have side effects on the digestive tract and stomach.
“We hope that the potential cancer-protective effect of NSAIDs will inspire more research on skin cancer prevention,” lead researcher Sigrun Alba Johannesdottir said in a statement. “Also, this potential cancer-protective effect should be taken into account when discussing benefits and harms of NSAID use.”
Even if your doctor recommends aspirin for your health regimen, remember that using sunscreen and avoiding burns are two of the best ways to reduce your risk of skin cancer.