Analysis revealed that people who took NSAIDs were less likely to have skin cancer
Painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen, known as NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), have already been linked with a lower risk of certain cancers, including breast, lung and prostate; now research indicates that they could also protect against skin cancers.
Researchers from Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark, looked at medical data spanning 18 years and set about assessing whether use of NSAIDs was linked to risk of three types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. The data related to around 180,000 people who did not have skin cancer, nearly 2,000 patients with squamous cell carcinoma, 13,000 with basal cell carcinomas and 3,000 with malignant melanomas.
The analysis revealed that people who took NSAIDs were less likely to have skin cancer and the longer they took those medications, the lower their risk. Those individuals who had more than two prescriptions were at a 15% reduced risk of squamous cell carcinoma and 13% for malignant melanoma. This effect was more evident when NSAIDs were taken for seven or more years. The same reduced risk was not seen for basal cell carcinoma.
While this is good news for anyone who is already on one of these medications, it’s not a reason to begin taking them purely for their anti-cancer effects. All NSAIDs come with side effects that can sometimes be serious, including gastrointestinal bleeding and chronic indigestion. And, importantly, NSAIDs could interfere with medications you are already taking.