Aspirin and Skin Cancer Prevention

It may be that some steps to preventing skin cancer could be as easy as including aspirin in your health plan.  While there are no concrete recommendations at this point, there are some very interesting conclusions from research into the link between aspirin and skin cancer prevention.

Skin cancers can come in several types and have different degrees of severity.  The most common are basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma.  Basal cell skin cancer is the most common type and is the easiest to treat as it is the least invasive and least aggressive.  Skin cancers are the most easily diagnosed type of cancer.  This is mostly due to the fact that the affected areas are on the outside of our skin so we can see them developing and can seek professional diagnosis early.

Skin cancers have become very prevalent in the last few decades.  It is thought that as many as one in five people will develop some kind of skin cancer in their lifetime.  It is believed that the effects of UV rays have become more destructive to our skin than they had been in the past because of the greenhouse effect on our environment from development and pollution.  Some studies show that people who live in places where the ozone layer is thinner are at higher risk.  Exposure to tanning from non-natural sources such as tanning beds has increased the number of those affected as well.

Other causes of skin cancer are genetic predisposition to the condition with those with fair skin who descended from Northern civilizations being particularly susceptible.  Statistics also indicate that while those from Northern ancestry have a higher risk, other ethnicities at lower risk often do not become aware of a developing skin cancer as early and seek treatment at a more advanced stage.

There are recent studies showing that people who routinely take aspirin are less likely to get certain types of skin cancer.  One study showed that squamous cell carcinoma was reduced by fifteen per cent in people taking anti-inflammatory drugs, and melanoma was reduced by thirteen per cent.  It is thought that aspirin reduces the activity of certain enzymes that are believed to influence inflammation.  There have been studies previously that linked those enzymes to the development of cancers.

Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid or ASA) has long been used for pain and fever and has in recent year also become a standard weapon in the battle for heart health.  While the studies and research continue, there is a promising indication that aspirin could indeed become a useful preventative measure in the development of skin cancers, just as it has been in heart health.

It is believed that the currently accepted measures for the prevention of skin cancers should continue to be embraced.  Wearing sunscreen (at least SPF 30) and not exposing yourself to direct sunlight for prolonged periods are effective ways to reduce your risks.  Prevention in children is especially important as skin damage from sunburn can be cumulative and increase the risk of skin cancer.

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Judi Shirey: Judi is freelance writer for the She has a degree in Journalism and worked in the medical field for 40 years. If you would like to contact Judi you may reach her at


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