Regular aspirin use, which doctors have long recommended for heart attack and stroke prevention, also may help reduce the risk of some forms of skin cancer, a new study suggests.
An analysis of the medical records of nearly 200,000 Danish adults found that people who filled more than two prescriptions for aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—such as ibuprofen or naproxen—over a 10-year period had a 15% lower risk of squamous cell carcinoma and a 13% lower risk of melanoma when compared with people who had filled one prescription or less.
People who were prescribed high doses of NSAIDs for seven or more years had the lowest skin cancer risk, according to the study, which was published in the journal Cancer.
The study shows only an association, however, and it has some important limitations that preclude any firm conclusions about a possible link between NSAIDs and skin cancer.
The researchers couldn’t verify that the study participants actually took their prescriptions, for instance, nor did they have any data on the participants’ lifestyle, skin type, or exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.