London: Aspirin or ibuprofen dramatically slashes the risk of developing skin cancer and appear to give people who regularly take them protection against it, new research has found.
The humble painkillers have already been hailed for reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, breast cancer and even Parkinson’s disease.
Now scientists have found that the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can protect against even the most deadly skin cancers.
Lead researcher Sigrun Alba Johannesdottir, of Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, said that he hoped the study would inspire more research.
“Given the high skin cancer incidence and the widespread use of NSAIDs, a preventive effect of these agents may have important health implications,” the Daily Express quoted him as saying.
Previous studies have shown the drugs – which includes aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and other non-prescription and prescription drugs – can decrease the risk of various cancer like, stomach, breast, bowel, oesophagus, pancreas, lungs, prostate, bladder and kidneys.
The Danish study examined the effects of NSAIDs on skin cancer, which takes the life of 2,749 people in Britain each year.
The study looked at the three major types of skin cancer - basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and the most deadly, malignant melanoma.
The team analysed medical records and prescription data in Denmark from 1991 to 2009 of several thousand patients with one of the three types and compared them with people who were healthy and disease free.
People who had more than two prescriptions for the drugs had a 15 percent decreased risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma and a 13 percent decreased risk for developing malignant melanoma.
This particularly applied when the drugs were taken for seven or more years or at high intensity.
There were also reduced risks of developing basal cell carcinoma on less exposed areas, other than the head and neck.
“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 if you’re thinking of taking it regularly,” Hazel Nunn, of Cancer Research UK, said.
The study was published online in the journal CANCER.