Can Aspirin Help Reduce the Risk of Melanoma? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on July 30, 2013

Can Aspirin Help Reduce the Risk of Melanoma?

When you have a massive headache, a couple of aspirin can be a true lifesaver.

But did you know that aspirin might actually do even more good for your body? A recent study found that aspirin may reduce your risk of melanoma—one of the most dangerous types of skin cancer—further supporting earlier evidence that showed the cancer-killing effects of the popular anti-inflammatory pills. 

What started off as a painkiller over a century ago has now become a way to treat a variety of health issues, such as the common cold, swelling, and fever. Aspirin is also currently hailed as an effective means to prevent certain conditions—and many doctors recommend it to patients at high risk for heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and other types of diseases.

Researchers have long believed inflammation plays a major role in the development and growth of cancer, and this study enforced the idea that aspirin promotes tumor cell death, including melanoma cells. Among 60,000 participants who were studied over 12 years, those who took at least two aspirin a week for at least a year had a 21 percent lower risk of developing melanoma than those who didn’t take the drug. And the risk further decreased as participants took aspirin over time; after five years of taking aspirin regularly, their risk for melanoma went down by 30 percent.

While this recent study focused on the role aspirin plays in reducing melanoma risk, it’s not the first of its kind. Some studies have also found a link between the drug and a decreased risk of colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and even Alzheimer’s. 

Although the CDC does not yet recommend aspirin to prevent melanoma, or any other type of disease for that matter, there are other ways you can take steps to prevent skin cancer:

  • Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30—even on summer days when it’s cloudy! Reapply every two hours.
  • Stop tanning. Frequent visits to the tanning salon can increase your risk of melanoma by 75 percent.  
  • Avoid being outside when the sun’s rays are most intense, which is between ten a.m. and four p.m.
  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection when you are outside. Melanoma can develop in the eyes.

Know the signs of skin cancer and take the time to examine your skin. Early detection can greatly increase your chances of being completely cured.

To learn more about Crozer-Keystone Cancer Services, visit or call 1-866-695-HOPE (1-866-659-4673).

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