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Report: Aspirin May Protect Against Deadly Skin Cancer

A new study has reaffirmed research showing that aspirin may protect against one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer - melanoma.
By Hana Levi Julian, MSW, LCSW-R
First Publish: 3/11/2013, 4:36 PM

The Dead Sea towards sunset
The Dead Sea towards sunset
Hana Levi Julian

A new study has reaffirmed research showing that aspirin may protect against one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer - melanoma. The research, published in the journal Cancer, monitored 60,000 post-menopausal Caucasian women over a 12 year period under the auspices of the U.S. federally-funded Women’s Health Initiative.

According to the findings, the women who took aspirin at least twice weekly were at 20 percent lower risk of developing melanoma than those who did not. 

Light-skinned people have the highest risk of developing melanoma, according to the research. In Israel, where bright sunlight is the rule rather than the exception from March through October, the risk of skin cancer becomes the most common reason for sunscreen sales at tourist hotels and on the beaches along the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean and Red Seas, and along Lake Kinneret.

Most of the women took regular adult aspirin, not baby aspirin, according to principal investigator Dr. Jean Tang of Stanford University Medical School. Tang added that women who took aspirin regularly for five years or more had a 30 percent lower risk.

Women who took other forms of NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) painkillers such as ibuprophen or naproxen were not protected in the same way.

Although aspirin also has side effects – it can cause stomach problems, including serious stomach bleeding, for instance – it also has the effect of inhibiting platelets, the components in the blood that promote clotting. Some scientists believe it is this quality that prevents cancer, or reduces tumors, by choking off the blood supply.

Others believe that a minimal dose of aspirin can be helpful due to its anti-inflammatory effect, which some researchers say is at least partially responsible for a reduction in the risk of breast cancer. at 

Last year Irish researchers published findings of a study, “Aspirin Use and Mortality in Women with Stage 1-111 Breast Cancer” that found a “significant association between high aspirin exposure and reduced breast cancer mortality in women with stage 1-111 breast cancer.” The research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (Asco) which took place in Chicago.

According to the findings, low doses of aspirin (75 mg) accounted for 90 percent of the aspirin use among the women, based on patient records from the national cancer registry, linked to prescription dispensing data of 2,714 subjects. 

“Quite noticeably women diagnosed with breast cancer who were taking low dose aspirin consistently every day for a cardiovascular indication, for example, obtain the benefit of it and lived longer, said Dr. Thomas Ian Barron, one of the authors of the study.

Last year Irish researchers published findings of a study, “Aspirin Use and Mortality in Women with Stage 1-111 Breast Cancer” that found a “significant association between high aspirin exposure and reduced breast cancer mortality in women with stage 1-111 breast cancer.” 
According to the findings, low doses of aspirin (75 mg) accounted for 90 percent of the aspirin use among the women, based on patient records from the national cancer registry, linked to prescription dispensing data of 2,714 subjects. 
“Quite noticeably women diagnosed with breast cancer who were taking low dose aspirin consistently every day for a cardiovascular indication, for example, obtain the benefit of it and lived longer, said Dr. Thomas Ian Barron, one of the authors of the study.