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Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and cancer

Science | Researchers
Research Spotlight: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and cancer

Current research reveals a complicated relationship between a common class of painkillers and the risk of developing certain cancers.

A literature review in Advances in Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences has investigated the role of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in cancer prevention, treatment, and promotion. 

NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, are among the most commonly prescribed medications worldwide, and are used to relieve pain in inflammatory conditions. There is a growing body of evidence supporting their use in both the treatment and prevention of cancer due to the link between cancer and chronic inflammation. However, the use of some NSAIDs has also been associated with an increased risk of developing certain cancers.

Dr Rebecca Wong from SEGi University in Malaysia studied more than 80 articles in her review titled “Role of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) in Cancer Prevention and Cancer Promotion”. She found that most of the current research on the relationship between NSAIDs and cancer focuses on their therapeutic effects in reducing risk or treating cancer; far less research has been conducted on the role of NSAIDs in cancer promotion. Furthermore, most of the studies that have been carried out are epidemiological rather than experimental, with little understanding of the mechanisms underlying the increased risk. The author also found that many studies present contradictory findings when it comes to the relationship between certain NSAIDs and cancer risk, with conclusions of both increased and reduced risk of the same cancer. 

This review shows the importance of further research into the relationship between NSAIDs and increased cancer risk. Specifically, Dr Wong suggests that experimental studies are needed to better understand the mechanisms of cancer promotion in order to balance the risks and benefits.

Read the full article here >>

This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Illustration by David Jury.


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