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Monday, February 27, 2012

Want to avoid cancer? Take ibuprofen

I recently tweeted a prediction: In five years, people will surely take NSAIDs daily for cancer prophylaxis, as surely as people take aspirin now for heart-disease prophylaxis.

The evidence is increasingly clear that common over-the-counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen inhibit, and/or prevent, cancer growth. 

As K. Wakabayash says in Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2000;1(2):97-113, "There is abundant epidemiological and experimental evidence that NSAIDs can inhibit tumour development in a number of organs and such drugs have given positive results in human intervention studies."

The literature on NSAIDs and cancer is increasingly vast. I won't try to summarize it here. I do recommend you investigate it yourself, and do what I do: take some ibuprofen daily.

If you want to save lives, please RT and/or send this link to friends.


  1. Anonymous6:04 PM

    I saw your post, and I was intrigued. I delved into some of the literature and much of it does indeed suggest NSAIDs being beneficial as prophylaxis of cancer. However, many of them conduct testing using supratherapeutic doses of NSAIDs, so the benefit from using standard dosing remains less clear. To compound the issue, there is little to no guidedance in this area. As with most medicines, caution is advisable, particularly for something such as NSAIDs which ar a large group of drugs, with many different indications (and contra-indications) and an extensive side effect profile.

    One of the main problems with NSAIDs are their gastro-intestinal (GI) effects. They block both gastro-protective COX-1 and inflammatory COX-2, and have been linked to a number of GI conditions. This is mainly true for their use long-term, however.

    Basically, what I'm trying to say is, yes, while NSAIDs maybe useful in prophylaxis, current guidedance is scarce. Who knows, maybe next month there will be a big push for bigger, much more indepth trials for NSAIDs, which will change attititudes toward cancer prophylaxis. Things will change, that is one certainty in medicine.

    In the mean time, a healthy balanced diet is something that should be targetted (plenty of fruit and vegetables). Also, if you are using OTC medicines regularly, please inform your doctor/pharmacist.

  2. Anonymous4:36 AM

    There are too many side effects:


    "NSAID-associated upper gastrointestinal adverse events are estimated to result in 103,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths per year in the United States, and represent 43% of drug-related emergency visits"

    1. These are people who are deliberately not following dosage guidelines (some of them trying to commit suicide).

    2. Anonymous3:26 PM

      I would imagine a proportion of those admissions to be due to improper dosing. Howeverr, NSAIDs, even when taken at correct doses and over long periods of time, can cause gastric ulceration and damage. That is why in the UK, guidance has changed for the use of aspirin. Previously, aspririn used to be prescribed as prophylaxis for adults over 55 who were at low risk of cardiovascular disease. However, recently (August 2011), the guidelines changed because studies found the risks of taking low dose aspirin outweighed the benefits in that group of patients.

      That change in guidance highlights the risks of NSAIDs, and particularly for low dose aspirin. So, remember that whilst these medicines are available OTC, they are still to be used with caution in the long term.

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