NSAIDs cut risk of oral cancer among smokers

April 18, 2005

Anaheim, Calif. -- People who chose to light up cigarettes may want to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen as well, according to research reported here at the 96th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research today.

"The use of NSAIDs among smokers protected against oral cancer development," said Jon Sudbø, M.D., Ph.D., D.D.S., a cancer researcher from the Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo, Norway, and lead author on the study.

People who took NSAIDs over extended periods of time and were light to moderate tobacco smokers had 65 percent less risk of developing oral cancer than smokers who went without NSAIDs, according to a population-based study on patients from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Norwegian Cancer Registry.

"The results of a significant reduction in oral cancer risk - particularly in light to moderate active smokers - suggest that NSAID use may provide anti-carcinogenetic effect while the smokers are subjecting themselves to tobacco insult," Sudbø added.

The effect of the NSAIDs was best for those smokers who were considered 30 or less pack-year consumers of tobacco. A pack-year of smoking consists of averaging one pack of cigarettes per day per year. Those who smoke three packs per day for ten years, or two packs per day for 15 years are also considered 30 pack-year consumers. The effectiveness of NSAIDs diminished for smokers whose consumption was greater than 30 pack-year levels.

Sudbø and his colleagues in Norway and the United States analyzed health data on 908 individuals, half of whom had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity. They considered the use of six NSAIDs including aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxene, indomethacine, piroxicame, and ketoprofene, as well as acetaminophen. All types of NSAIDs were effective at reducing the rate of oral cancer.

Acetaminophen (paracetamol), a non-aspirin pain relief medication, was ineffective at reducing the risk of developing oral cancer among smokers.
Contributing to the study presented by Sudbø were J. Jack Lee and Scott M. Lippman, UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas; Andrew J. Dannenberg, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, N.Y.; Simone Sagen, Wanja Kildal, and Albrecht Reith, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Jon Mork, The National Hospital, Oslo, Norway; Ari Ristimäki, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland; and Asle Sudbø, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.

Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research is a professional society of more than 24,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical scientists engaged in all areas of cancer research in the United States and in more than 60 other countries. AACR's mission is to accelerate the prevention and cure of cancer through research, education, communication, and advocacy. Its principal activities include the publication of five major peer-reviewed scientific journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. AACR's Annual Meetings attract more than 15,000 participants who share new and significant discoveries in the cancer field. Specialty meetings, held throughout the year, focus on the latest developments in all areas of cancer research.

American Association for Cancer Research

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