On the surface, I think we all know the benefits of aspirin: headache, fever and pain relief.
ASPIRIN: MORE THAN JUST PAIN RELIEF
Aspirin is one of the most commonly used drugs worldwide and is on the World Health Organisation’s List of Essential Medicines.
Around 40,000 tonnes are consumed globally each year. I estimate that to be about 16 pills each year, per person across the world.
That’s a lot of headaches.
In actual fact, the drug has wider benefits for certain people when taken regularly.
Aspirin can be administered for daily use to help prevent against heart attacks, strokes and blood clots in people at high risk. It is also believed to reduce the chance of getting gastric, colon, prostate and breast cancer.
If you’re one of those regular takers, this post is for you.
ASPIRIN AND SKIN CANCER
Despite its amazing benefits, a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that a daily dose of aspirin doubles a man’s risk of developing skin cancer.
The study in midwestern USA took place over five years and covered 200,000 patients. Just over 1,100 of these patients took a regular dose of aspirin (split 55% male and 45% female). The remaining people didn’t and were, in effect, a ‘control’ group.
After five years, scientists noticed that the men who took aspirin regularly were nearly 2x more likely to develop skin cancer than those who didn’t.
What’s more, the 55% of men that took aspirin regularly were more likely than the regular female aspirin takers to develop skin cancer.
There are several things you could say about this study. Isn’t the patient’s cancer history relevant? Was each patient’s sun exposure measured? Did the patients have different skin types that made these results more likely? Did somebody police the daily aspirin intake? And so on…
I would say that as far as studies go, 200,000 data records is large and five years is a reasonable period of time, adding credibility to the results.
OUR PENNY’S WORTH
This post isn’t intended to scaremonger. It isn’t about choosing between one terrible disease and another. I’m certainly not endorsing stopping aspirin therapy. You’re being advised by amazing doctors who know what they’re doing.
My key takeaway from this study is that your risk of skin cancer appears to be higher if you take aspirin regularly.
Separately, we know that in many countries, men are already up to 2x more likely than women to die of skin cancer.
So, if you’re a male and/or you take aspirin frequently, please be extra vigilant about sun protection. This is purely our opinion based on our reading of medical journals. So, wear daily sunscreen all year round. Cover up in the sun. Wear a hat and sunglasses. Avoid sun beds altogether.
All the stuff you know you should do. Except this time, it’s supported by a scientific study and isn’t just the text you ignore on the back of a pack.
Please make the smart move.