Aspirin lowers melanoma risk in women

March 16, 2013

Women who regularly take aspirin have a 21 percent lower risk of developing melanoma than those who do not take the drug, results of a recent study indicate.

 

Women who regularly take aspirin have a 21 percent lower risk of developing melanoma than those who do not take the drug, results of a recent study indicate.

The study conducted by researchers with Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif., included 61,000 Caucasian women ages 50 to 79 who were part of the Women’s Health Initiative, according to a news release. Researchers tracked whether patients were aspirin users, nonaspirin users, nonaspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) users and nonusers of NSAID/aspirin. Dermatologists evaluated or confirmed melanomas reported during the initiative, according to the report.

Investigators found that the protective effect of aspirin also increased over time, with patients demonstrating an 11 percent risk reduction after one year and a 22 percent reduction at one to four years. At five years and longer, there was a risk reduction of as much as 30 percent.

While the results are promising, senior author Jean Tang, Ph.D., noted that it remains unknown how much aspirin should be taken and for how long to be effective against melanoma. Further, the study was based solely on self-reporting. But the initial results are encouraging, researchers said, as aspirin already is known to have other protective effects and could lead to treatment strategies for other types of cancer.

“There’s a lot of excitement about this because aspirin has already been shown to have protective effects on cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer in women,” Dr. Tang said. “This is one more piece of the prevention puzzle.”

The study was published online March 11 in Cancer.