Source: Cancer (online Journal, March 11, 2013); American Cancer Society
ASPIRIN is one of the most widely used medications in the world, with an estimated 40,000 tons of it being consumed each year. In countries where Aspirin is a registered trademark owned by Bayer, the generic term is acetylsalicylic acid (ASA).
Plant extracts, including willow bark and spiraea, of which salicylic acid was the active ingredient, had been known to help alleviate headaches, pains, and fevers since the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates (460 BC and 377 BC) described the use of powder made from the bark and leaves of the willow tree. A French chemist, Charles Frederic Gerhardt, was the first to prepare acetylsalicylic acid in 1853. Synthetic Aspirin was first isolated by Felix Hoffmann, a chemist with the German company Bayer in 1897, and was thereafter copyrighted.
The aspirin study included 59,806 postmenopausal Caucasian women aged 50 to 79 years. During a median follow-up of 12 years, 548 incident melanomas were confirmed by medical review. Women who used ASA had a 21% lower risk of melanoma relative to nonusers. Increased duration of ASA use (<1 year, 1-4 years, and ≥5 years) was associated with an 11% lower risk of melanoma for each categorical increase and women with ≥5 years of use had a 30% lower melanoma risk. In contrast, use of non-ASA NSAIDs and acetaminophen were not associated with melanoma risk.
The obvious conclusions are that postmenopausal women who used ASA had a significantly lower risk of melanoma, and that longer durations of ASA use are associated with greater protection. Although this study was limited by the observational design and self-report of NSAID use, the findings suggest that ASA may have a chemopreventive effect against the development of melanoma and warrant further clinical investigation.
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