Thursday, July 17, 2014

Aspirin May Lessen Risk of Skin Cancer

Generic regular strength enteric coated 325mg ...
Generic regular strength enteric coated 325mg aspirin tablets, distributed by Target Corporation. The orange tablets are imprinted in black with "L429". (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Nicholas Bakalar

Researchers report that a woman's regular use of aspirin may decrease her risk of melanoma, the most serious kind of skin cancer.

The study, published online in the journal Cancer, included 59,806 women ages 50 to 79. Researchers gathered health and lifestyle data at the start of the study, and the women reported their health in yearly questionnaires over an average 12 years of follow-up. The women brought in their medicine bottles for the researchers to examine and record.

There were 548 incidents of melanoma during the period. After controlling for sun exposure, sunscreen use, a history of skin cancer and many other factors, the researchers found that women who reported using aspirin had an average 21 percent lower risk of melanoma compared with nonusers, and the longer they used aspirin, the lower their risk.

Natural protection against the sun's rays

The reasons for the effect are unclear, but the authors suggest that aspirin's known effect in promoting cell death and activating tumor suppressor genes may be factors.

The senior author, Dr. Jean Y. Tang, an assistant professor of dermatology at Stanford University in California, said the study was observational, not a clinical trial, and that correlation does not equal causation.

"It's an important finding for high-risk women to discuss with their doctors," Dr. Tang said, adding, "but it's way too early to recommend that everyone go take aspirin to prevent melanoma."

Lifted from TODAY Saturday Edition, April 6, 2013