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Can aspirin help prevent skin cancer?

Research published by the Journal of Investigative Dermatology has revealed that regularly taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen can help lower the risk of developing skin cancer.

The study, which was carried out in Australia, found that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (otherwise known as NSAIDs) actually reduced the risk of an individual developing squamous cell carcinoma by up to 18%.

Drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen have also often been linked to a reduced risk of other cancers, such as colon cancer.

Although experts still cannot be sure of the precise effects of taking anti-inflammatory drugs regularly, the results of this recent study give patients with the disease hope that drugs can effectively prevent and potentially treat the disease.

Professor Dorothy Bennett, an expert in cell biology at St George’s University, London, said that the results were worth knowing: “Noting that most [squamous cell carcinomas] are curable by surgery if caught early, this reduction in risk is interesting, but it is hard to say whether it is worth taking action over.”

She added, “Given that long-term therapy with NSAIDs is not without its own risk, a safer option for those who wish to reduce their likelihood of skin cancer may be to spend a few minutes a day less outside.”

Experts have also stated that the statistics cannot always be accurate due to variable factors such as the amount of sun someone is exposed to, or even what doses of the drugs they take.

However, it is thought that because NSAIDs include a component known as diclofenac, skin cancer cells are discouraged from developing because the medication inhibits an enzyme known as COX-2 which is involved in spreading tumours.

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, with over 100,000 people diagnosed with the condition annually. Reduce your chances of developing skin cancer by avoiding overexposure to UV light, including sunbeds, and being in direct sunlight without adequate protection in the form of clothing or sunscreen.

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