Aspirin inhibits enzymes that cause inflammation and pain. Such enzymes as COX-2 have been linked with the advancement of melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers. The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin decreases the risks of developing melanoma. However, a steady dosage should be used continually over a long period of time to obtain substantial results.
A report published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD) reviews the body of currently published literature to attempt to reach a conclusion. A study of the Dutch population reveals that a consistently low-dose of aspirin is associated with a significant decrease in the risk of melanoma in women, but the results did not apply to men. The experiment was replicated in the United States over a five-year period, confirming the results of the Dutch study. However, the U.S. results found that long-term aspirin use decreases melanoma risk in both men and women. A Danish study shows that other NSAIDs reduce risks as well, along with their respective dose intensities and duration of use. The results of this study are inconclusive, however, since data was not adjusted for skin types and sun exposure.
On the other hand, four studies that focused on aspirin usage have produced contradictory results. Three show no correlation between the drug and melanoma risks, while the fourth actually shows an increased risk factor. However, these studies have limitations such as insufficient tracking time, insufficient dosage, misreporting and limited skin types (i.e., studied only caucasian women).
Overall results of this analysis of completed studies conclude that aspirin is the best-suited NSAID to help reduce melanoma risks. Some cardiologists even recommend daily use of aspirin for everyone over the age of fifty. The JAAD report’s authors support the daily use of aspirin for high-risk patients, including those with a family history of melanoma.