Here we go again with science touting the benefits of over-the-counter drugs! Apparently, if you take a common painkiller like aspirin or ibuprofen for at least seven years or at least twice a week, you're less likely to ... get skin cancer (specifically squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma). The longer people took the drugs and the higher the dose, the greater the anti-cancer benefit. I know, who would have thought?
But just because researchers in Denmark and the U.S. are psyched about this finding doesn't necessarily mean they've pinpointed a new preventative medicine for the masses. Are we really going to start taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories to ward off skin cancer? Gee, I sure as heck hope not!
Okay, so experts say it's basically like a happy side effect of the drugs if you take them already. And NSAIDs could potentially counter cancer growth by "suppressing inflammatory pathways and stimulating tumors' ability to expand and develop blood supplies." But plenty of other more organic measures offer anti-inflammatory effects, as well. The spice turmeric, for instance, is a natural anti-inflammatory and has been shown to guard against other forms of cancer in a similar way.
As interesting as this is -- and as nice as it is to know that you're not just ripping up your gut when you pop ibuprofen -- it sounds to me like this study should fall into the same category as the science behind diet drugs. Quick fixes in the form of a poppable pill are never going to be as effective as lifestyle measures. And it's certainly not like we are so defenseless against skin cancer that we need to start taking aspirin or ibuprofen as a preventative measure!
I'm sure it wasn't researchers' intention, but studies like this could potentially send a dangerous message -- that getting our sun on is a-okay as long as we pop these drugs. But aren't damaging UV rays the first and foremost cause of skin cancer? Well, wouldn't it follow then that avoiding them should be lauded as the #1 preventative measure against skin cancer -- not relying on painkillers? How about we just lay off the bronzed look? Back awaaaay from the tanning booth? Slathering on some sunblock? Seems like that would be the simpler, healthier solution for the masses.
What do you make of this research? Do you ever intentionally tan in the summer?