An aspirin a day may protect against skin cancer, according to a new study published in the journal Cancer.
Research has already shown that bowel cancer patients who take a daily aspirin could cut their chances of dying from the disease by about a third. Now, researchers from the University Hospital in Denmark say that people who take aspirin on a regular basis cut their risk of developing skin cancer by about 15 per cent, including malignant melanoma.
The medical records of 200,000 people in Denmark were analysed by the scientists. Around 18,000 of these had been diagnosed with one of three types of skin cancer- basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or malignant melanoma.
Researchers calculated how many of these had been prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen over an eight year period. Many were taking them for heart conditions or arthritis.
Those with more than two prescriptions for NSAIDs had a 15 per cent reduced risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma, and a 13 per cent lower risk of malignant melanoma. The higher the dose and the longer the person had been on the medication, the greater the protective effect. However, NSAIDs did not lower the overall risk of basal cell carcinoma. The researchers wrote:
"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."
More research is now needed to confirm and explain their findings. There were limitations with the study, like the inability to monitor exactly how much of a drug a person took. In addition, people are able to buy aspirin without a prescription, which would not have been recorded.
Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs do have potentially harmful health effects as well. They have been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, irregular heartbeat and miscarriage.
Hazel Nunn of Cancer Research UK said: "By far and away the best way to reduce the risk of skin cancer is to enjoy the sun safely, and take care to avoid sunburn.”
"There is mounting evidence that aspirin does reduce the risk of some cancers, but it's too soon to say if this includes skin cancer. Aspirin can have serious side effects - so it's important to talk to a doctor about the risks and benefits if you're thinking of taking it regularly."
Make sure you have access to the best skin cancer drugs in the UK by investing in a health insurance policy with full cancer cover.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012