With summer now in full swing many are headed outdoors to enjoy the sunshine.
The fear of skin cancer promotes the heavy use of sunscreen and sunhats for many, but have you ever considered a bottle of pain killers for skin cancer prevention?
A recent study in Denmark shows that the regular use of NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen decreases a person’s risk of skin cancer, including even the deadliest type melanoma.
Sigrun Alba Johannesdottir, lead author of the Denmark study, says the findings are logical because "NSAIDs work by inhibiting specific enzymes involved in inflammation," and "Previous studies show that elevated levels of these enzymes are found in skin cancer and that they are involved in important steps of cancer development such as inhibition of cell death, suppression of the immune system, and stimulation of invasiveness and blood vessel growth."
The study involved a review of the records of about 18,000 Danish people who were diagnosed with skin cancer. Each individual case was paired with ten other non-cancer persons to compare the use of prescription drug use in years prior to their cancer diagnosis.
The study showed that those who had consistently used aspirin and ibuprofen were 13% less likely to develop skin cancer than their non- NSAID user counterparts.
And the more NSAIDs used the better the skin care results.
Those who filled NSAID prescriptions and used those drugs at least twice a week for at least seven years were 46% percent less likely to develop melanoma, 35% less likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, and 17% less likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.
Still, there are several adverse effects to taking NSAIDs regularly such as an increased risk for kidney disease and internal bleeding.
Research scientist in Oakland, Dr. Maryam Asgari, cautions "I don't think I'd recommend to people, 'Hey, take an aspirin a day to prevent skin cancer.'"
Even study author Johannesdottir points out that "Because there are also risks associated with the use of NSAIDs, we cannot give recommendations on NSAID use in general. It is up to the patient and his/her physicians to balance benefits and harms."
The CDC reports that in 2008 there were about 60,000 people in the US diagnosed with Melanoma, with less than 9,000 dying each year from the disease.
With such a serious disease, dermatologists say prevention is key.
Though aspirin may prove an important tool in skin cancer prevention, Johannesdottir says, “The most important prevention against skin cancer remains sun protection."
Talk to a doctor to learn more about this topic.Sources
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.