PORTLAND -- A Portland doctor has a warning about the Danish study linking common painkillers like aspirin and Aleve to a reduction in skin cancer.
“This is not like wearing a hat, a shirt and sunscreen, the degree of benefit is much slimmer,” said Dr. Miles Hassell of Portland’s Providence Saint Vincent Medical Center.
The study showed a 13 percent lower risk of malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer and a 15 percent lower risk of squamous cell carcinoma.
Researchers studied 18 years of medical records in Northern Denmark and compared skin cancer cases with prescriptions.
Dr. Hassell pointed out they did not consider sun exposure.
“Not knowing the sun exposure of the patients really weakens the data. If they were taking the painkillers for arthritis pain they may have been staying indoors and that would reduce their risk for skin cancer.”
Dr. Hassell does prescribe aspirin for patients who have a history of cardiovascular disease.
Pharmacist Shawna Laxson also encourages patients to talk with their doctors about whether they should take an aspirin every morning.
“I often recommend generics to customers. Aspirin is aspirin and has been around for years,” she explained.
Dr. Hassell said it comes down to a balance of risks and benefits.
“Aspirin has been shown to be beneficial for heart patients but it’s way too early to tell if painkillers can reduce the risk of skin cancer and we have to remember some of these drugs carry risks for the liver and kidneys,” he concluded.