Can Aspirin Prevent Skin Cancer?


November 18, 2016


Zhu et al. 2015: Aspirin for the primary prevention of skin cancer


An older Caucasian women applying sunscreen to young Caucasian child. In recent years, research studies have shown that taking daily aspirin may reduce the risk of developing some types of cancer. The evidence is strongest for colon cancer, but other sites like stomach, esophagus, breast, and prostate may be affected as well. But what about skin cancer, the world’s most common cancer? Whether aspirin intake can reduce the risk of developing skin cancer is unclear.

In a meta-analysis published in the journal Oncology Letters, the association between aspirin exposure and skin cancer risk was evaluated. A total of eight case-control and five prospective cohort studies from 11 publications were reviewed. Statistical analyses of the data demonstrated that that a daily dose of 50-400 milligrams of aspirin was significantly associated with a reduced risk of skin cancers, especially non-melanoma skin cancers.

Previous studies have produced mixed findings. A recent observational study looked at melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, in women. Women who took a regular dose of aspirin at least a couple of times a week had a 20 percent lower risk of developing melanoma, and those who took for five years or more had a 30 percent lower risk. But other studies have found no beneficial impact of aspirin on skin cancer risk.

With such mixed results, and taking into account the side effects of aspirin, most experts believe the evidence is not strong enough for them to recommend the regular use of aspirin to prevent skin cancer.