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Aspirin found to reduce skin cancer risk

Epidemiologists have found that aspirin may assist in reducing the risk of developing skin cancer, reveals a recent scientific publication, following research undertaken at the Suncorp Skin Cancer Laboratories at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR).

Results of the study provide evidence to show that regular ingestion of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin may offer protection against squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and actinic keratoses (sunspots).

QIMR’s Dr David Whiteman says that aspirin blocks a specific enzyme known as cyclo-oxygenase (COX) which is important for some types of skin cancer development.

“We found that people who regularly used aspirin and other NSAIDs had significantly lower risks of developing skin cancer than people who did not use them,” Dr Whiteman said.

“Moreover, we found that among people who had never had skin cancer, those who regularly used aspirin had significantly lower numbers of sunspots.”

Regular consumption of doses of 200mg or more of NSAIDs was associated with substantially lower incidence of SCC and sunspots.

The study supports a possible chemo-preventative action of NSAIDs against skin cancer and if confirmed by other studies, may lead to novel approaches to assist in controlling this common type of skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Australia and the most expensive to treat, with one Australian being diagnosed for skin cancer every 90 seconds and more than $200 million spent annually on treatments.

The research findings provide a timely reminder that skin cancer can be prevented, with Suncorp and QIMR launching a joint skin cancer awareness campaign throughout Queensland next week, the start of national Skin Cancer Awareness Week.

Aimed at reducing the incidence of skin cancer, the campaign will run throughout Queensland on television, radio, cinema, in print and on outdoor bus shelters and billboards until February 2006.

Suncorp CEO, John Mulcahy, said Dr Whiteman’s finding about aspirin provides further evidence that skin cancer can be prevented.

“We also believe that community awareness has a big role to play in the prevention of skin cancer,” he said.

“The new joint Suncorp and QIMR advertising campaign launching across Queensland next week will play an important role in raising awareness about the dangers of UV exposure and how people can prevent the disease.”

Further research into this disease is currently being undertaken at the Suncorp Skin Cancer Laboratories at QIMR’s Clive Berghofer Cancer Research Centre.

Suncorp entered a three year partnership with QIMR last year to support the Skin Cancer Research Laboratories.

Employing over 700 scientists, QIMR is the largest medical research facility in the Southern Hemisphere and is recognised globally for the quality of its research.

QIMR research has proven that daily application of sunscreen can prevent the development of skin cancer.

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.