Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) use has been associated with a reduced risk of a number of cancers. The mechanism is thought to be via the inhibitory action on the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme, COX-2. The aim of this review was to investigate the association between NSAID/aspirin use and risk of head and neck cancer (HNC).
The authours conducted searches of Medline, Embase, PubMed, the Cochrane Library, and Web of Science limited to human studies and excluded review articles. Observational and interventional studies were included and no language restriction was imposed.
They found two population-based prescribing database studies and three case–control studies that met the selection criteria. The studies investigated different HNC sites.
- one study found a significant protective association of aspirin use with HNC risk (OR 0.75, 95% CI 0.58–0.96),
- one showed a significantly increased risk of oral/oropharyngeal cancer with non-low-dose aspirin NSAID use (OR 3.5, 95% CI 1.8–6.7).
- Many of the studies identified lacked information on important confounding factors.
No definitive conclusion on the effect of NSAIDs/aspirin on HNC risk was possible. Aspirin may protect against HNC, although further robust large-scale studies are required to clarify any possible association.
Wilson JC, Anderson LA, Murray LJ, Hughes CM. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug and aspirin use and the risk of head and neck cancer: a systematic review.Cancer Causes Control. 2011 May;22(5):803-10. Epub 2011 Mar 17. PubMed PMID:21409528.