Aspirin May Reduce Risk of Head and Neck Cancer

Aspirin May Reduce Risk of Head and Neck Cancer

According to an article recently published in the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, long-term use of aspirin may reduce the risk of developing head and neck cancer among some patients.

Head and neck cancer originates within the head or neck. The most common type of head and neck cancer is squamous cell, which refers to the type of cell where the cancer originated. Because head and neck cancer is often associated with a decline in quality of life due to side effects of standard therapies as well as with suboptimal outcomes once the cancer has spread from its site of origin, prevention of this cancer is an active area of research.

Researchers from the Roswell Cancer Park Institute in New York recently evaluated data among 529 patients who were diagnosed with and treated for head and neck cancer between 1982 and 1998. The data from these patients were compared to data from hospital patients who did not have head and neck cancer.

  • The use of aspirin was associated with a 25% reduction in the risk of head and neck cancer.
  • The risk of head and neck cancer was reduced further with frequent and prolonged use of aspirin.
  • Individuals who were aspirin users and had moderate exposure to either smoking or alcohol demonstrated a 33% reduced risk of head and neck cancer.
  • Individuals who were heavily exposed to either smoking or alcohol did not benefit from aspirin use.
  • Women seemed to benefit more from aspirin use than men.

The researchers concluded that regular aspirin use may significantly reduce the risk of developing head and neck cancer, particularly among individuals who are not heavily exposed to smoking or alcohol. Furthermore, increased duration of aspirin use is associated with a greater reduction in the risk of head and neck cancer. Patients should always speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of taking aspirin.

Reference: Jayaprakash V, Rigual N, Moysich K, et al. Chemoprevention of Head and Neck Cancer with Aspirin. Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 2006; 132:1231-1236.

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