Men Who Take Daily Aspirin at Higher Risk for Melanoma

Katie Kosko

Aspirin is reported to reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as gastric, colon, prostate and breast. However, study findings published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed that once-daily aspirin use can increase the risk of melanoma in men — nearly double that of men who do not use aspirin each day.

Researchers from Northwestern Medicine examined medical records of almost 200,000 patients, aged 18 to 89, who were aspirin-exposed (either dose of 81 or 325 milligrams) for at least one year between January 2005 and December 2006 or aspirin-unexposed, which was used as the control group. None of the patients had a history of melanoma.

Out of a total of 195,140 patients, 1,187 were aspirin exposed; and of these, 26 men and women (2.19 percent) had a diagnosis of melanoma compared with 1,676 (0.86 percent) patients in the control group.

But when men and women were separated, men who had taken aspirin had almost twice the risk for diagnosis of the disease than the men who had not taken it.

Senior study author Beatrice Nardone, M.D., Ph.D., research assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, named possible reasons for this including the fact that men express a lower amount of enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase and catalase, compared with women.

“These lower levels of protective enzymes suggest that a higher level of resulting oxidative cellular damage in men might contribute to the possibility of developing melanoma,” Nardone said in an interview with CURE.

In 2015, a survey of more than 2,500 Americans aged 45 to 75 found that more than half (52 percent) reported regular aspirin use. Twenty-one percent reported using aspirin at some point in the past. The findings reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine noted that adults were using aspirin for primary prevention including for cardiovascular events.

“Given the widespread use of aspirin and the potential clinical impact of the link to melanoma, patients and health care providers need to be aware of the possibility of increased risk for men,” Nardone said in a press release.

Nardone’s suggestions for eliminating the risk of melanoma include: increasing patient education about sun exposure, avoiding tanning beds and getting skin checks by a dermatologist.
“(Men) should not stop taking aspirin as recommended by their treating physician, but be aware of this possible link with melanoma and thus follow the recommendations as explained above,” Nardone added.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. It can develop anywhere on the body, such as the eyes, nails, feet and scalp, according to the Melanoma Research Foundation. In 2018, more than 178,000 people are expected to be diagnosed
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