Don't skip the sunblock yet. Aspirin may fight more than the Irish flu. People who took the drug at least once or twice per week had a 20 percent ...
Aspirin may fight more than the Irish flu. People who took the drug at least once or twice per week had a 20 percent lower risk of developing melanoma than those who didn’t, finds new research in the journal Cancer.
And if people popped aspirin for 5 years or more, their risk for the deadly skin cancer was reduced by about 30 percent compared to those who steered clear of the drug, according to the study.
While the findings are promising, the study can’t prove cause and effect. So don’t rush to the drugstore just yet—unless it’s to buy sunscreen, since clinical trials (which provide more definitive proof) have found it reduces melanoma risk by about half, says study author Jean Y. Tang, M.D., Ph.D., of Stanford University.
An aspirin regimen has its downsides, including known side effects like increased bleeding and stomach ulcers, Dr. Tang says. And unless you’re at high risk for melanoma—for instance, if you’ve already had skin cancer—the benefits may not be worth the risks.
Aspirin is thought to prevent melanoma by reducing systemic inflammation, a cellular cascade that contributes to conditions from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer to heart attacks. If you don’t want to pop a pill every day, try one of these drug-free ways to fight inflammation:
- Fire up your Keurig. Compounds called catechins in green tea have anti-inflammatory effects. In one recent study, taking 540 milligrams of catechins daily—less than the amount in two cups—for 12 weeks reduced skin damage after exposure to UV rays.
- Say “om.” UCLA researchers found just 12 minutes of chanting yogic meditation every day reduced levels of inflammation-related chemicals in the bloodstream. And twice-weekly Hatha yoga sessions minimized the inflammatory response to stress, according to a study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.
- Schedule a rubdown. In a study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 45-minute Swedish massage sessions brought down blood levels of two hormones linked to inflammation.
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