Ibuprofen is a commonly-used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for pain relief, however new research suggests that it may also be beneficial to current and former smokers. Researchers from Ohio State University have found that the drug could reduce the risk of death due to lung cancer.
Lung cancer is one of the most prevalent types of cancer in the US, with approximately 224,390 individuals diagnosed with the disease every year. It also represents the number one cause of cancer death in men and women.
Around 80 to 90 percent of all cases of lung cancer diagnosed in the US have been associated with smoking. Since chronic inflammation in the lungs caused by prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke has been associated with an increased risk of developing lung cancer, the researchers on the current study decided to investigate whether an anti-inflammatory medication – namely, ibuprofen – could help lower this risk.
The researchers analyzed data collected from 10,735 adults, as part of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). During the initial enrollment period between 1988 and 1994, study participants were asked about their history of smoking, use of NSAIDs and additional lifestyle choices.
On average, study participants were followed for 18 years, with the researchers recording cause-of-death using the National Death Index until 2006. Using Cox proportional hazards regression models, the researchers studied the association between NSAID use and risk of lung cancer death.
In all, 269 of the participants in the initial survey died as a result of lung cancer, with 252 of those individuals having a history of smoking. In addition to this data, the researchers also analyzed the effects of NSAID use among a further 5,882 adults who were past or current smokers.
The team calculated that people with a history of smoking who used ibuprofen on a regular basis, had a 48 percent lower chance of dying from lung cancer, compared to smokers who did not take the NSAID. According to the researchers – who presented these results at the IASLC 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) – this link was not statistically significant.
“These results suggest that regular use of certain NSAIDs may be beneficial for high-risk subgroups of smokers as a lung cancer prevention strategy,” said Dr. Marisa Bittoni, of Ohio State University. While regular use of ibuprofen could mitigate lung cancer death risk, more research will need to be conducted to verify the link.