US Pharm. 2018;43(6):20-21.

Men who take once-daily aspirin have nearly double the risk of melanoma compared to men who are not exposed to daily aspirin, according to a Northwestern University study. Women, however, do not have an increased risk in this large patient population.

“Given the widespread use of aspirin and the potential clinical impact of the link to melanoma, patients and health care providers need to be aware of the possibility of increased risk for men,” said senior study author Beatrice Nardone, MD, PhD, research assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Dr. Nardone suggested increasing patient education about sun exposure, avoiding tanning beds, and getting skin checks by a dermatologist, particularly for individuals who are already at high risk for skin cancers. “This does not mean men should stop aspirin therapy to lower the risk of heart attack,” she stressed.

Almost half of people aged 65 years and over reported taking aspirin daily or every other day, according to a 2005 study. In 2015, about half of a nationwide survey of U.S. adults reported regular aspirin use. The study was published on April 27, 2018, in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Dr. Nardone was surprised at the results because aspirin is reported to reduce risk of gastric, colon, prostate, and breast cancer. And some previous studies have reported a reduced risk in aspirin-exposed men and an increased risk in aspirin-exposed women. Nardone attributed this to variability of the research methods used in studies that look for associations and risks for cancers.