Nonaspirin NSAIDs Linked to Kidney Cancer

Long-term use of nonaspirin NSAIDs increases risk of renal cell carcinoma

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Popular pain relievers have long been thought to be harmless. Such is not the case, it turns out. Care needs to be taken with everything you put in your system.

Using nonaspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is now linked to increased risks of renal cell cancer (RCC), the seventh leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

"Don't take over-the-counter pain relievers for long periods of time."

Eunyoung Cho, Sc.D., of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, led a team of researchers who analyzed the relationship between analgesic use and kidney cancer.

Data from the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study was used. Researchers followed participants for 16 years in the nurses' study and 20 years for the health professionals' follow-up.

Relative risk is defined as the risk of developing kidney cancer for someone who used NSAIDS versus the risk of someone developing kidney cancer who didn't use NSAIDs. They examined analgesic usage patterns among the nearly 127,000 men and women and here's what they found:

  • An association between nonaspirin NSAIDs (Advil, Aleve, Motrin) use and increased risk of RCC
  • Relative risk of 51 percent 
  • 19 percent decrease in relative risk among those who used the medicines for less than four years
  • 36 percent increase in relative risk for use between 4 years and 10 years
  • 3X relative risk for use of 10 years or more
  • Aspirin and acetaminophen were not linked to this elevated risk.

Findings from this study are published in the September, 2011 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 12, 2011
Last Updated:
September 12, 2011