Most doctors will tell you to limit your aspirin intake due to possible adverse effects on the liver. However, this may change if a new study in the American Cancer Society journal is anything to go by. It turns out that an aspirin a day may reduce the risks of developing malignant melanomas.
Aspirin picture from Shutterstock
Is there anything aspirin can't do? In the past, we've looked at how aspirin can cure hang-overs, prolong the life of flowers and even remove dandruff. Now, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine are purporting that the wonder drug could also reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.
The research team recorded the medications and diet of 59,806 postmenopausal US women and proceeded to observe them for a period of 12 years. They discovered that women who took more aspirin were less likely to develop melanoma skin cancer compared to aspirin abstainers. The study also found that those who had been taking aspirin the longest were at the lowest level of risk.
The report concluded that aspirin’s anti-inflammatory effects may help protect against melanoma skin cancer:
Postmenopausal women who used ASA had a significantly lower risk of melanoma, and longer duration of ASA use was associated with greater protection. Although this study was limited by the observational design and self-report of NSAID use, the findings suggest that ASA may have a chemopreventive effect against the development of melanoma and warrant further clinical investigation.
While we don't purport to be scientists, we suspect the psychology and behavior of aspirin takers may have skewed the results. Generally, proponents of non-prescribed aspirin tend to fall under the "worried well" umbrella — AKA healthy people who take pre-emptive steps to avoid the possibility of disease. It therefore stands to reason that these same people would take preventive measures to avoid skin cancer too. Just a theory.
On the other hand, an earlier research report from Denmark appears to back up the Stanford University School of Medicine's findings. The study analysed the medical records of more than 180,000 Danish patients, and found a 13 percent decreased risk for developing malignant melanoma among aspirin takers.
In any event, the best way to reduce the risk of skin cancer remains the tried-and-trusted 'slip, slop, slap' method — use sunscreen, wear a hat and try to stay in the shade.