But regardless of dosage used, type of medication taken, and/or whether NSAIDs were pharmacy-dispensed, the anti-inflammatory drugs were not found to be associated with a drop in skin cancer risk.
In fact, those patients who had taken NSAIDs for a relatively short period of time --anywhere from one to three years-- actually appeared to have a slightly increased risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma, the researchers said.
They concluded that NSAIDs did not seem to offer any protective effect with respect to skin cancer, and -- given the potential toxic side-effects of long-term NSAID use -- they suggested that patients at higher risk for skin cancer should be directed towards other safer, and perhaps more effective, interventions.
"We were surprised at the lack of NSAID protection," Asgari remarked. "Particularly when we saw an increased risk for skin cancer associated with the short-term use of NSAIDs. But actually that's not been unheard of, and I think there could be various explanations for this. Maybe people using NSAIDs short-term have other co-morbidities that make them more prone to having a weaker immune system and having poorer health. And also there are some forms of NSAIDs that do make you sun-sensitive, and more prone to getting DNA damage. That might be another explanation. But we were surprised."
However, Eric Jacobs, strategic director of pharmaco-epidemiology for the American Cancer Society, said Asgari's findings were not surprising.
"Results from this study are consistent with those of most previous studies," he said. "The best way to lower the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, is to limit your exposure to strong sunlight -- for example by wearing a hat and using sunscreen -- and to avoid using
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