WASHINGTON D.C. (WUSA9) -- Aspirin is quickly becoming a utilitarian drug in the field of medicine. It can help women get pregnant, lower the risk of other cancers, and now a study in the Women's Health Initiative finds: it may also lower melanoma cancer risk.
Researchers observed US women aged 50-79 years for an average of 12 years, keeping track of their daily intake of food and medications. They also controlled for sunscreen use, tanning practices and differences in skin color.
59,806 Caucasian women were used in the study. Jean Tang, M.D., Ph.D., of Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, and her colleagues, found that those in the study who took more aspirin were less likely to develop melanoma skin cancer during the next 12 years.
In fact, there was a 21% lower risk of melanoma for those women who used aspirin in comparison to non-users.
And the findings are consistent with the normal effects of aspirin. Dr. Jashin Wu, M.D. of Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, tells CBS News,"When you reduce inflammation with something like aspirin, that might reduce cancer as well."
There are further precautions that women can take to prevent melanoma. Dr. Wu says, "Avoid the sun at peak hours between 10am and 3pm...wear hats, long sleeves, and sunscreen of SPF of at least 30."
Melanoma symptoms include moles that change color or size. It is the deadliest of the three types of skin cancer; visiting a dermatologist regularly is highly recommended.