An Aspirin a Day Keeps the Funeral Director Away

NSAIDs linked to lower colorectal cancer deaths among postmenopausal women

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

(RxWiki News) As with so many medications, controversy swirls around long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). A new study says it's a life-saving practice for some.

Taking NSAIDs on a regular basis for at least a decade is associated with lower death rates from colorectal cancer among postmenopausal women. Those are the findings of a recent study.

"Ask your pharmacist about the risks or benefits OTC meds."

NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), aspirin (Anacin, Bayer) acetaminophen (Tylenol) and naproxen (Aleve).

Anna E. Coghill, M.P.H., a doctoral student in epidemiology at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and colleagues examined the link between NSAID use and colorectal cancer mortality in 160,143 postmenopausal women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). These women did not have colorectal cancer at the initial study screening.

Participants included women who were enrolled in both the WHI and the WHI observational study. Coghill says this population was an excellent group for studying data for investigating "multiple types, durations and strengths of NSAID use.”

After reviewing medical records and death certificates, researchers found 2,119 cases of colorectal cancer and  492 deaths due to the disease.

Participants who said they used of NSAIDs at the time they were enrolled in the study and three years afterwards had a roughly 30 percent lower rate of death due to colorectal cancer, as compared to women who did not use NSAID regularly.

Women taking NSAIDs for at least 10 years had substantially lower death rates than women who did not take the medications.

This research was presented at the 10th American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.

Study findings are considered preliminary before they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 24, 2011
Last Updated:
October 24, 2011