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07-07-2011 | Oncology | Article

Long-term NSAID use lowers risk for melanoma


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MedWire News: Long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) appears to reduce the risk for cutaneous melanoma, suggest study findings.

NSAIDs have been shown to have a chemoprotective effect against colorectal cancer when taken frequently over an extended period of time. Although some observational and animal studies have suggested this effect might also exist for melanoma, others have produced conflicting results.

To investigate whether NSAIDs do have a protective effect against melanoma, Clara Curiel-Lewandrowski (Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson, USA) and colleagues carried out a case-control study of 400 cutaneous-melanoma patients, aged 60 years on average, and 600 age- and gender-matched controls.

All the participants were interviewed about current and previous use of medications and melanoma risk factors and demographic characteristics were also recorded.

In total, 69.5% of the cases and controls reported NSAID exposure during the year before they were interviewed. Aspirin was the most commonly used NSAID (57.8%), followed by ibuprofen (45.3%) and naproxen (10.6%).

The researchers found that after adjusting for age, gender, and town, any use of NSAIDs decreased the risk for melanoma by a significant 27% compared with no use.

Individuals who regularly used NSAIDs for over 5 years had a significant 43% decreased risk for developing cutaneous compared with those who used NSAIDs for less than 2 years or not at all.

Aspirin use appeared to reduce the risk for melanoma more than use of other NSAIDs, as using aspirin for over 5 years compared with less than 2 years decreased the risk for melanoma by 49%. In comparison, more than 5 years of non-aspirin NSAID use decreased melanoma risk by 36% compared with less than 2 years of use.

The authors concede, however, that this disparity could reflect the higher use of aspirin compared with other NSAIDs in this cohort.

"In summary, our findings suggest that long-term use of NSAIDs, particularly aspirin, decreases the risk of cutaneous melanoma by half," write Curiel-Lewandrowski and team in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

"Considering the risk to benefit ratio of low-dose aspirin including the risk for bleeding and its cardiovascular effects, aspirin would be an ideal candidate for clinical chemoprevention studies in melanoma in very high-risk populations (eg, familial melanoma syndrome, atypical mole syndrome, and previous melanoma) or in populations using aspirin for other health endpoints," they suggest.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Helen Albert

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