SolaScan, a new device to detect skin cancer, is demonstrated at its launch in Sydney May 7, 2002. The SolarScan works by capturing an image of a patient's skin spot then image analsis software compares features against images of melanomas and non-melanomas in a database. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer in men and women aged 15-44 and is the most deadly form of skin cancer, killing around a thousand Australians a year. (Photo : Reuters )
A new study looked into the potential melanoma-fighting benefits of aspirin and how the over-the-counter pain medication and heart attack fighter might also help with skin cancer prevention.
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"Aspirin works on a slightly different inflammatory pathway than NSAIDs, and some of these pathways may be specific to melanoma," said Dr. Jean Tang, an author of the study and associate professor of dermatology at Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif.
For the study, published in the journal Cancer, researchers analyzed data from women ranging from age 50 to 79 who were part of the Women's Health Initiative-a long-term nationwide health study.
The scientists monitored 60,000 postmenopausal Caucasian women based on their pain reliever usage and found that those who took aspirin two or more times per week had a 21 percent lower risk of developing melanoma as compared to those who did not take the pain reliever at all.
The women also had to fill out a questionnaire as part of the study that addressed any additional drugs that they were taking at the time and how much and how long they were taking them for.
Twenty-five percent of the women were labeled as aspirin users, while about 15 percent said they took non-aspirin NSAIDs and 60 percent said that they did not use either medications.
The average follow-up period was 12 years and 548 cases of melanoma were detected in the 60,000 women.
After adjusting for outside factors that may contribute to skin cancer, researchers concluded that the women who took aspirin were 21 percent less likely to develop melanoma than the non-aspirin group.
"Aspirin could be used as a way to prevent melanoma, however clinical trial testing has to be done first before it can be recommended," Tang said.