By Emily Murray
New research has shed some surprising light on a formerly unknown side effect of common painkillers. It seems that certain medications in the NSAID category, like aspirin and ibuprofen, for example, are actually responsible for lowering the risk of certain types of skin cancer.
Medical records from the past 20 years were studied by Danish researchers who found a strong correlation between relatively high dosages of daily NSAIDs and a decreased incidence of skin cancer. This appeared to hold true despite age or gender differences.
While similar studies have been conducted in the past, the latest researchers have pointed out the comparison system they have used in their research and how it has made their study more reliable. This allowed them to also monitor patient prescription use as another indicator of health or sickness, one that doesn’t rely on self-reporting which can often be flawed.
For the purpose of this study, the three main types of skin cancer known as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma were focused on.
Researchers found that particularly patients who had more than 2 prescriptions for NSAIDs were at a 15% lower risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma and additionally, a 13% lower risk of developing malignant melanoma than others who had fewer prescriptions or no NSAID prescriptions at all. The length of time that these medications were taken regularly for also had an impact. Researchers found the effects to be the highest in those who had taken NSAIDs for 7 or more years.
Researchers however were unable to pinpoint an exact amount or timeline for taking these medications in order to reap the benefits. They were also sure to point out that the potential downfall of taking these medications routinely is that there are some inherent risks and side effects. Among these are potential kidney damage, excessive bleeding and stomach issues.
While it is too soon to make an accurate medical recommendations based on this study, it is very likely more research will emerge on the subject soon perhaps taking us one step closer to snuffing out certain types of cancer someday.