DENVER -- A new study of women who regularly take aspirin shows a new benefit -- a reduction in their risk of getting skin cancer.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, killing nearly 9,000 people each year.
The study, conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine, finds that women who took aspirin on a regular basis reduced their risk of developing melanoma by more than 20 percent.
“It's thought that the aspirin and other non-steroidals were decreasing inflammation which might be related to other cancer incidences," said Dr. Robert DellaValle of the University of Colorado Hospital.
Researchers also found that the longer a woman used aspirin, the lower her risks.
Women with a family history of skin cancer are most likely to benefit from aspirin therapy, but not children, patients on blood thinners or those with stomach problems.
"We don't want anyone with GI bleeding to get that, it can be lethal. We want people with a strong family history or strong likelihood of getting melanoma," DellaValle said.
Researchers found the best results in patients who took aspirin on a regular basis and not too much, about two to 3 pills a week.
The study, published in this week's online journal, Cancer, focused on post-menopausal women ages 50-79 who were selected because of their light skin, which is a major risk factor for developing melanoma.
Doctors emphasize that the study does not imply that people taking aspirin should not use sunscreen or avoid excessive sun exposure.
Aurora resident Jodi Dukes developed skin cancer in her teens and needed substantial life saving treatment.
"They took out a large chunk of my shoulder. Took out my lymph nodes that were nearby," Dukes said.
Dukes encourages anyone who is tempted to ignore warnings about the dangers of prolonged and unprotected sun exposure to heed her words of wisdom: “Ask what's the most important thing. Do I want a tan today? Or do I want to be alive tomorrow?”
For more information about protecting your family against skin cancer you can visit SkinCancer.org.