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Aspirin Lowers Deadly Skin Cancer Risk in Women

Mar 11, 2013 04:54 AM EDT

According to a new study, taking a daily dose of aspirin may reduce the risk of melanoma. Researchers say that aspirin has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the risk of cancer.

Melanoma, according to PubMed Health, is the most deadly form of skin cancer. This year, the National Cancer Institute estimates that about 76,690 cases of melanoma will occur in the U.S.

Previous research has shown that aspirin can lower the risk of colorectal cancer. The Harvard Gazette had recently reported that a daily dose of aspirin can extend the lives of people who have been diagnosed with a certain kind of colorectal cancer. A study published in the Lancet last year had said that people who are genetically susceptible to the cancer (where the cancer runs in the family) can reduce their risk of the cancer by using 600 mg of aspirin per day for 25 months.

Another study published in Gastroenterology in 2008 had said that men can lower the risk of colorectal cancer by using aspirin continuously for 6 years with about 14 tablets per week, a really high dose that may lead to other health problems.

The present study was conducted by Jean Tang M.D., PhD, of Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, and her colleagues. The research team analyzed the data available from nearly 60,000 white women. Researchers found that women who took aspirin were less likely to develop the deadly cancer. These women were at a 21 percent lower risk of developing melanoma than women who didn't take the drug over a 12-year study period.

Researchers also found that the longer women stayed on the medication, the lower was their risk of melanoma. For example, while there was an 11 percent lower risk of the cancer in women who took the drug for one to four years; there was a 30 percent drop in risk of cancer with a five-year or more of drug use.

The study had accounted for other factors like sunlight exposure, use of sun-protection, pigmentation, etc., that may have skewed the study results.

"Aspirin works by reducing inflammation and this may be why using aspirin may lower your risk of developing melanoma," said Dr. Tang.

Tang added that other medications for pain like acetaminophen did not lower women's melanoma risk.

The next step would be to find if aspirin directly lowers cancer risk, Tang noted.

The study is published in the journal Cancer.                                   

The National Cancer Institute has more information on Aspirin Use and Cancer.

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