Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States today. But experts say there is a simple solution that people could try to use in their efforts towards skin cancer prevention.

CBS news reports on an interesting new idea for skin cancer prevention. Researchers have found that over the counter painkillers may reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.

Experts say that common painkillers, including ibuprofen, might slightly lower your risk of developing a form of skin cancer. Researchers found that the use of ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) appear to reduce the risk of squamous cell skin cancer by 15 percent. Experts came to this analysis after reviewing nine previous studies. Squamous cell skin cancer is generally caused by too much exposure to the sun.

Dr. Olsen, the study’s co-author said,

“These painkillers have potential as part of a skin cancer-prevention strategy. Scientists have wondered about the ability of certain painkillers to prevent skin cancer because researchers believe the drugs might have cancer-fighting powers for other kinds of tumors. The painkillers reviewed included aspirin, in addition to ibuprofen and naproxen. These drugs treat pain and reduce inflammation, although they can also cause serious side effects such as bleeding in the digestive system.”

Not all experts recommend taking these painkillers though. This is because they have side effects of their own. These experts say that prevention is the best mode. They advocate original methods such as using sunscreen, staying in the shade and sun protective clothes.

Millions of Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every year. The American Cancer Society says about 2.2 million Americans are diagnosed with either squamous cell or basal cell skin cancer each year. And around 20 percent of these skin cancers are said to be squamous cell.

Luckily these cancers are often treatable. Experts believe squamous cell skin cancers are not usually dangerous unless they go untreated and spread (or metastasize). They rarely metastasize, although that is a possibility. The cancers usually appear on parts of the body exposed to the sun, and are generally easily removed. They are generally not fatal.

How was the study conducted?

“The researchers combined the results of nine existing studies. They determined that use of these kinds of drugs -- except aspirin -- might reduce the risk of squamous cell skin cancer by 15 percent. The association between the painkillers and reduced squamous cell cancer risk was most pronounced in people with potentially pre-cancerous growths known as actinic keratoses or a history of skin cancer. The researchers think the painkillers may lower the risk of skin cancer by disrupting the activity of proteins that contribute to swelling and the development of tumors,” according to CBS.

Aspirin is also known to have tumor fighting powers for other types of tumors.

The group said that their research on whether recommendations should be made for patients to take painkillers is ongoing. But they said that for people who are at risk of getting skin cancer and are considering trying it, they should consult with their physician first.



Gerry Oginski
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