Aspirin & Skin Cancer

Aspirin has many benefits and some serious risks. Along with lowering the risk of heart attacks (for men), the USPSTF (US Preventative Task Force) recently indicated that for a specific group of people, those aged between 50 and 70 years of age, aspirin’s benefits for lowering colorectal cancer might be worth the risks. The American Academy of Family Physicians has more information on the guidelines.

Will aspirin be recommended for skin cancer prevention also? There’s some evidence that skin cancer prevention might be one of the benefits, but don’t move too quickly

Here are some of the pros:

There are many studies that, after analysis, cumulate to lead the researcher to conclude that a daily dose of 50-400 mg of aspirin lowers the risk of skin cancers. The researcher conducted a meta-analysis (a review of many studies) published in NCBI(an arm of the National Institutes of Health).

A 2013 observational study, reported in Everyday Health, March 11, 2013, indicated that women who took aspirin have a 21% lower risk of melanoma (the most common skin cancer) which increased the longer the women took aspirin. White women are a high-risk group and were the target of this study. The study does duplicate and make more clear this benefit of aspirin regimen noted in previous, smaller and less conclusive studies. Among those women who had been taking at least 2 aspirins a week for five years or more the study found a 30% lower chance of skin cancer.

Here are some cons:

Aspirin is a real drug and can cause problems. The American Cancer Society researcher, Eric J. Jacobs, Ph.D.,noted in an interview, that the daily use of even low-dose aspirin can be associated with “with potentially serious side effects. These include increased risk of ulcers and stomach bleeding, which can occasionally be serious enough to require blood transfusions and even cause death.

Side effects other than gastrointestinal bleeding: Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), blurry or double vision, rapid deep breathing. Long-term negative effects include doubling the risk of age-related macular degenerationfrom 1 in 200 in older adults to 1 in 100.

If you are a man at risk of CV (cardiovascular) event and tried to lower your risk through diet, exercise and managing your cholesterol/blood pressure/blood sugar levels without success, aspirin with its bonus benefits might be a good choice for you. For women, the risks of gastrointestinal bleeding are higherand the lowered effectiveness of aspirin for women’s CV events more often outweighs the benefit.

As always, discuss with your healthcare provider and make the choice that is right for you.


Suzanne B. Robotti

Suzanne B. Robotti

Suzanne Robotti founded MedShadow Foundation in 2012. Learn more about Su and her mission.

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