Dental Tribune Europe

Regular aspirin intake may reduce oral cancer risk

By Dental Tribune International
April 10, 2013

BELFAST, UK: The findings of a new study suggest that regular use of aspirin could cut head and neck cancer risk by almost a quarter. The researchers found that people who consumed aspirin on a daily or weekly basis were less likely to develop the disease, which affects about 16,000 people in the UK every year, according to the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF).

Data for the study was obtained from the US National Cancer Institute’s Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial, a large population-based randomised trial that investigates the effect of aspirin and ibuprofen on head and neck cancer risk, among others, and involves approximately 77,500 men and 77,500 women aged between 55 and 74.

As regular aspirin use was associated with a significant reduction (22 per cent) in head and neck cancer risk in this group, the researchers concluded that it may have potential as a chemopreventive agent for this type of cancer. However, no such association was observed with regular ibuprofen use.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the BDHF, hopes that the findings will encourage further research, as mouth cancer cases are increasing worldwide. In addition, he stressed that it is important to consult a dentist if patients notice ulcers that do not heal within three months, patches, or unusual lumps or swelling in their mouth. If diagnosed too late, the survival rate for head and neck cancer tumbles to as low as 50 per cent, he said.

As reported by Dental Tribune ONLINE last year, a US study of 434 patients found that taking anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin in particular reduces the risk of Barrett’s oesophagus, a medical condition that is the largest known risk factor for oesophageal cancer.

The current study, titled “Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug and aspirin use and the risk of head and neck cancer”, was published online on 28 February in the British Journal of Cancer ahead of print.

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