Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be associated with lower colorectal cancer mortality among postmenopausal women, particularly in those who use these agents for longer periods of time before a diagnosis is made.

In study results presented at the 10th American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, held October 22-25, 2011, in Boston, Massachusetts, Anna E. Coghill, MPH, and colleagues described their analysis of the effect of NSAID use on colorectal cancer mortality among 160,143 postmenopausal women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) clinical trials and WHI observational study. None of the subjects had a history of colorectal cancer at the time of enrollment. Coghill, a doctoral student in epidemiology at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle, Washington, and her team reviewed medical records and death certificates to confirm 2,119 cases of colorectal cancer and 492 deaths caused by the disease.

Although reported use of NSAIDs at study baseline (including aspirin, ibuprofen, and prescription NSAIDs) was not linked with colorectal cancer mortality, women who reported NSAID use at both baseline and year 3 experienced reductions in colorectal cancer mortality of approximately 30% compared with those who did not report use at both time points. Women who had used NSAIDs for at least 10 years before enrolling in the study carried a significantly reduced risk for colorectal cancer mortality than did women who reported no use.

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The researchers concluded that the relationship between long-term NSAID use and reduced colorectal cancer mortality may indicate that these agents have an effect on decreasing the incidence of new tumors and on lowering rates of disease progression.