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Painkillers reduce oral cancer risk

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce half the risk oral cancer in active and moderate cigarette smokers.

Painkillers reduce oral cancer risk

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce half the risk oral cancer in active and moderate cigarette smokers.However, this reduction in oral cancer incidence apparently did not translate into increased overall survival. Researchers from the Norwegian Radium Hospital in Oslo found that long-term use of NSAID for several years was associated with a doubling in the risk of cardiovascular death.

NSAIDs have previously been shown to protect against colon and breast cancer, but it is not known whether they have the potential to prevent oral cancer. To investigate, the researchers studied data from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Norwegian Cancer Registry. Out of 3,233 individuals at high risk of oral cancer, based on their tobacco habits, 454 developed cancer of the oral cavity. These individuals were matched by age and sex to 454 cancer-free controls. Of the group as a whole, 263 were long-term NSAID users and 645 were not. A total of 77 patients with oral cancer were NSAID users compared to 186 without oral cancer. Long-term use was defined as taking NSAIDs daily for at least 6 months, and most of the NSAID users in the study had been taking these drugs for 5 years or more.

The likelihood of developing oral cancer with long-term NSAID use was a highly significant 51 per cent lower compared with not taking NSAIDs. Acetaminophen (paracetamol), which is not in the NSAID class, had no apparent protective effects.
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However, the likelihood of dying of cardiovascular disease was doubled with long-term use of any NSAID. The study however is small but it raises the question of safety in chemopreventive trials of NSAIDs.
American Association for Cancer,
April 2005
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