Long-Term Used of NSAIDS Linked to Renal Cancer

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as Advil, Motrin, and Aleve have long been linked to increased risks of adverse events. Now, says US News, long-term use of the drugs has been linked, in a Harvard research report, to increased risks for developing kidney cancer.

We have long written that these drugs and other NSAIDs such aspirin, ibuprofen, and prescription medications that include COX-2 inhibitors including Celebrex (generic: celecoxib), have also been linked to increased risks for heart failure, death, and even erectile dysfunction (ED).

The most popular pain killers, NSAIDs are used by millions regularly and have been linked to the reduction of some cancers, said the team. “NSAIDs have been associated with a reduced risk of several types of cancer, including colorectal, breast and prostate,” said lead researcher Eunyoung Cho, assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, reported US News. “Our study raises a contradicting possibility that non-aspirin NSAIDs may elevate the risk of certain types of cancer…. If our studies are confirmed, risks and benefits should be considered in deciding whether to use analgesics, especially for long duration,” she added. The report appears in the September 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Some epidemiological evidence, derived mostly from small case-control studies, revealed a link between long-term analgesic use and kidney cancer, which prompted this study, said US News. For the research, the team compiled data on 77,525 women and 49,403 men who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The team looked for a kidney cancer link in these participants, specifically for renal cell cancer, which comprises most—85 percent—of all kidney cancers, explained Bloomberg News. The researchers also looked for other kidney cancer risk factors including weight, smoking, physical activity, and high blood pressure.

In 16 years of follow-up for the women and 20 for the men, 333 cases of renal cell cancer were noted. No link was found between increased renal cell cancer risks and aspirin and acetaminophen; however a link was seen between regular use of non-aspirin NSAIDs and renal cell cancer, resulting in a 51 percent increase in the relative risk for the disease, the team noted, said Bloomberg News.

The risk was 19 percent lower if the medications were used for less than four years; however, the risk for renal cell cancer rose to 36 percent in people using nonaspirin NSAIDs regularly for four to 10 years, increasing nearly three-fold in those who used the drugs in excess of a decade, said Cho’s group, according to Bloomberg News.

Eric Jacobs, strategic director of pharmacoepidemiology at the American Cancer Society, said that “this well-designed study adds to the evidence that long-term regular use of non-aspirin NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, may modestly increase risk of kidney cancer,” according to US News.

As we’ve mentioned, in 2004, the COX-2 inhibitor Vioxx (rofecoxib) was withdrawn from the market after a trial found that the drug increased risks for cardiovascular disease. Since, there has been much debate about the cardiovascular safety of COX-2 inhibitors and traditional NSAIDs.

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