Can Ibuprofen Stop Skin Cancers From Developing?

Once a patient is treated for skin cancer, they often ask if there is anything they can do to help prevent future skin cancers from developing. “It’s a common question,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, a board certified Dermatologist and skin cancer specialist in Austin, Texas. “We know that once someone has been diagnosed with skin cancer, their chance of getting another skin cancer goes up. Patients learn this too, and they want to be proactive.”

Generic green pills in front of bottleDr. Mamelak is a fellowship-trained Mohs Micrographic Surgeon who diagnoses and treats skin cancer patients at Sanova Dermatology and The Austin Mohs Surgery Center.

There is encouraging news. A few recent studies have shown that Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) could be effective in lowering the risk and subsequent development of skin cancers like Melanoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma. NSAIDs include drugs such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory agents. These drugs, most commonly used for pain control and noted to help minimize risk for heart attack and stroke, may be the key to preventing these other serious health conditions.

In the study examining patients in Northern Denmark, information was gathered on patients from the years 1991 to 2009. After organizing the data, and making note of those who had skin cancers, it was found that those who had been taking at least two NSAIDs for a prolonged period of time (in this case, greater than 7 years) were less likely to develop Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Malignant Melanoma, than those who had not taken them in this fashion. The study did not show significant protection against Basal Cell Carcinoma.

Another study by investigators in Brisbane, Australia, that actually compared data from 9 separate reports concluded that non-aspirin drugs could reduce the risk of Squamous Cell Carcinoma by 15%, while all NSAIDs (aspirin and non-aspirin) reduced the risk by 18%.

“It is interesting that researchers are now taking note of how medications designed for one thing have an effect in other areas of health,” notes Dr. Mamelak. “These types of studies can give us profound information on prevention and how to lower risks in health conditions like skin cancer.”

Although these results showed a very informative trend, it is important to note that this does not necessarily mean that NSAIDs are a way of stopping these cancers from forming. “There is no way to guarantee that you will not develop skin cancer, but sunscreen and being conscious when out in the sun are definitely a great place to start,” Dr. Mamelak states.

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Are you are increased risk for skin cancer? Please contact us today at Sanova Dermatology so we can assist you with all your skin care needs!

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