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STUDY: NSAIDs may fight pancreatic cancer
JOURNAL: J Natl Cancer Inst. 2002;94:1168-1171
AUTHORS: Kristin E. Anderson, PhD
ABSTRACT: Regular aspirin use among postmenopausal women may reduce their risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Laboratory tests have suggested that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may fight pancreatic cancer, but until now there has been only limited evidence in humans to back up this theory.
COMMENTARY: In this study, researchers looked at NSAID use among more than 28,000 postmenopausal women, from 1992 through 1999.
They found that women who reported any use of aspirin had a 43% lower risk of pancreatic cancer compared with women who never took aspirin. In addition, the more aspirin use a woman reported, the less likely she was to develop pancreatic cancer.
Other NSAIDs did not have the same effect. Use of NSAIDs other than aspirin did not decrease the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Study author Kristin E. Anderson, PhD, of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues say NSAIDs are thought to help prevent pancreatic cancer by inhibiting a particular enzyme in the body, thereby reducing inflammation.
The researchers say that their study suggests the drugs may also work in other ways to fight cancer because only aspirin was found to have a protective effect. But, they add, the women in the study used aspirin more often than they did other NSAIDs. This may partially explain why there was a stronger association between aspirin use and cancer prevention than was seen with the newer NSAIDs.
The researchers say that if further studies confirm this link, "more than 40% of pancreatic cancers may be prevented by aspirin among people who don't normally take aspirin." Although experts are not exactly sure what puts a person at risk for pancreatic cancer, smoking and obesity are thought to increase the risk.