Painkillers Prevent Cancer but Up Heart Risk
Anti-Inflammatory Drugs May Help Prevent Oral Cancer but Also Increase Heart Disease Risk
WebMD News Archive
Painkillers Lower Risk of Oral Cancer continued...
Over a 20-year period, 454 of them developed oral cancer; they were compared
with 454 smokers who did not develop cancer. Of these 908 people, 277 were
long-term NSAID users, meaning they used the medications for at least six
The study showed that years of NSAID use were associated with lowered oral
cancer risk. Those who took NSAIDs for five years or less had about half the
risk for oral cancer compared with nonusers. Those who used them for 15 to 26
years were 70% less likely to develop oral cancer.
At the Heart of the Matter
But the researchers were puzzled because the NSAID users did not live
longer. The data were so surprising that "we thought the data were
corrupt," Sudbo says.
A closer look revealed the reason why: NSAID users were twice as likely to
die from heart-related problems. There were 42 cardiovascular-disease deaths
among 263 high-risk, long-term NSAID users and 41 cardiovascular deaths among
562 people who had never taken such drugs.
People who took ibuprofen were at highest risk: They were nearly three times
more likely to die of heart disease than non-NSAID users.
Aspirin did not seem to increase the risk of dying from heart disease, but
"with only 14 patients taking aspirin the numbers are too small to know if
it was a [statistical fluke]," Sudbo says.
The NSAID dose did not seem to make a difference in risk, but this needs
future study, he says.