Cancer Research UK says a study claiming painkillers might cut the risk of skin cancer could be very exciting but being sun smart is still the best option. Hazel Nunn from the charity is calling for more detailed research on the harms and benefits of medicines like aspirin.
New research has found that taking common painkillers such as Aspirin could cut the risk of getting skin cancer by around 15 percent. The Danish study says taking the medications over a long period if time has a significant effect on the three main types of skin cancer.
– Sigrún Alba Jóhannesdóttir, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark
"Our study showed that users of common painkillers, known as NSAIDs, led to a lower risk of developing the three major types of skin cancer (malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma). The greatest effect was found for squamous cell carcinomas and malignant melanoma, especially when taken frequently and over a long time period.
It is up to the patient and his/her physicians to balance benefits and harms... Meanwhile, the most important prevention against skin cancer remains sun protection."
Experts say more research is needed into the side effects of aspirin before it is officially recommended for treating cancer.
A Dutch study published today in the British Journal of Cancer suggests the drug can help bowel cancer patients.
"This latest study adds to the growing evidence about the benefits of aspirin," said Sarah Lyness of Cancer Research UK.
"But we are not yet at the point where we would recommend people start taking aspirin to reduce their chances of developing cancer.
"There are still questions we need to answer about the side effects. Aspirin can increase the chances of complications before surgery.
"Anyone thinking of taking aspirin to cut their risk of cancer should talk to their GP first."
Patients too old or too unwell to have chemotherapy could benefit from taking aspirin to treat bowel cancer, according to researchers at the Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.
The team is planning a randomised controlled trial later this year targeting the over-70s population.
– Lead researcher Dr Gerrit-Jan Liefers
"Our findings could have profound clinical implications. We showed the therapeutic effect of a widely available, familiar drug that costs mere pennies per day.
"It's possible that some older people may have other health problems which mean that they are not well enough to have chemotherapy.
"Bowel cancer is more common in older people so these results could be a big advance in treatment of the disease, particularly in this group."
Researchers from the Netherlands have found that taking a daily dose of aspirin for any length of time after being diagnosed with bowel cancer will reduce the risk of dying from the disease by 23%.
Taking a daily dose of the pain killer for at least nine months after being diagnosed cuts the likelihood of dying from the disease by 30%.
Aspirin can reduce the chances of dying from bowel cancer by almost a third, according to research.
Patients who took a daily dose of aspirin for at least nine months after being diagnosed with the cancer cut the likelihood of the disease by 30%.