Can Painkillers Reduce Risk of Skin Cancer?

Danish researchers have found that taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may lower one’s chances of developing skin cancer, specifically basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. The study evaluated a group of roughly 18,000 individuals with either of the three aforementioned skin cancers and compared them to about 180,000 people without skin cancer. This information was further categorized by each person’s gender, age, county of residence, and prescription usage.

The study shows that people who filled three or more NSAID prescriptions in their lives had a 13 percent lower risk of developing malignant melanoma and a 15 percent lower risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma. In addition, individuals that regularly took NSAIDs for a period of 7 or more years had a 46 percent lower risk of developing malignant melanoma and a 35 percent lower risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma. NSAID usage did not dramatically reduce the occurrence of developing basal cell carcinoma, but it still lowered the risk by up to 21 percent excluding the head and neck. Why might NSAIDs have these capabilities?

NSAIDs have the ability to hinder cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzymes which play a role in producing cancer. Previous studies have shown that NSAIDs may reduce the occurrence of colorectal cancer. Researchers are hoping that NSAIDs can eventually become a preventive measure against developing skin cancer.

In the meantime, the usual recommendations still apply for reducing your risk of getting skin cancer. These include frequently applying sunscreen and covering yourself up when out in the sun. Equally important is to perform self-exams on your skin monthly and yearly examinations by a dermatologist.

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At Advanced Dermatology, PC, our board-certified dermatologists are experts at diagnosing and treating skin cancer and other skin conditions. Contact us today to schedule your complete body examination.

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