Some anti-inflammatory drugs may help reduce skin cancer risk

December 23, 2014

Some anti-inflammatory drugs, including ibuprofen have the potential to prevent the second most common type of skin cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

 

Dr OlsenSome anti-inflammatory drugs, including ibuprofen have the potential to prevent the second most common type of skin cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Researchers at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, reviewed all available published data on squamous cell carcinoma and use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). QIMR Berghofer’s Dr Catherine Olsen and colleagues identified 9 studies that had examined the association and the pooled findings of those studies showed that use of non-aspirin NSAIDs and all NSAIDS combined was associated with a reduced risk of squamous cell carcinoma (15% and 18% respectively). There was also a reduced risk associated with aspirin use, although it was not statistically significant.

“NSAIDS have been shown to be protective for other cancers,” said Dr Olsen. “This prompted us to evaluate all of the available evidence on NSAIDs use and squamous cell carcinoma by conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis of the association. This is the best evidence to date of the effect of NSAIDS on squamous cell skin cancers.”

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Sun exposure is the strongest risk factor for squamous cell carcinoma and so reducing sun exposure is the best means to prevent these skin cancers; however NSAIDs may have potential as a supplementary skin cancer control measure. 

“Clinicians can now take this into consideration when prescribing anti-inflammatory medication for their patients with other sun-induced skin tumors who may be at high risk of squamous cell carcinoma.”

 

 

Although these findings are promising, more information is required on dose and duration of NSAID use before specific recommendations for skin cancer prevention can be made, according to Dr Olsen.

Dr Olsen said there can be side-effects with both aspirin and other NSAID use, and patients should talk to their healthcare provider before taking any medication to reduce their skin cancer risk.

The findings are now the subject of further research at QIMR Berghofer.

Squamous cell carcinoma is one of the most frequently occurring cancers world-wide and is a significant public health burden in Australia affecting 6 in every 1,000 Australians each year.