Aspirin long-term could lower melanoma chance for women by thirty percent

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Women who take aspirin found to have lower risk of melanoma skin cancer.

Women who take aspirin for 12 years or more might lower their risk of melanoma skin cancer by thirty percent, finds a new study published online in the journal CANCER.

Researchers say the anti-inflammatory effect of the drug seems to have a beneficial effect for lowering rates of the skin cancer that has been a public health concern because it has been on the rise.

One person dies from melanoma in U.S. every hour

The American Melanoma Foundation reports 75 percent of skin cancer deaths occur from melanoma that kills one person in the U.S. every hour, making the finding important.

Researchers are not ready to say aspirin should be used for melanoma prevention yet, but they did find the longer a woman takes aspirin, the less likely they were to develop the skin cancer.

The finding comes from the Women’s Health Initiative study.

Jean Tang MD, PhD, of Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, and her colleagues assessed data available from 59,806 Caucasian women over a period of 12-years.


Women who reported taking aspirin were 21 percent less likely to develop melanoma. The incidence was even lower the longer the women took the drug.

The researchers assessed several other factors at the start of the study including what the women ate, what other medications they took and activities.

Melanoma risk went down by 11 percent with each year of use. The overall risk of the cancer was 30 percent lower with five years of use.

Dr. Tang suggests the study means a clinical trial should be developed to find out whether aspirin should be used as a primary prevention for the skin cancer.

Before you take aspirin, speak with your doctor. The therapy may not be safe for everyone and carries risks of gastrointestinal bleeding and Reye’s syndrome. Too much aspirin can cause ringing in the ears. The drug can also interact with other medications and can lead to kidney problems.

In addition to melanoma, taking an aspirin a day is found to lower the risk of colorectal cancer and extend life for some patients already being treated for the disease.

March, 2013

Image credit: Wikimedia commons