NSAIDs show benefit in colorectal cancer prevention

Volume 6, Issue 2, 2017


Nonaspirin NSAIDs were found to be better at preventing the recurrence of adenomatous polyps.

Photograph of M. Hassan Murad, M.D.

M. Hassan Murad, M.D.

Mayo Clinic researchers and a team of collaborating scientists from across the U.S. have documented the comparative effectiveness of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in preventing the recurrence of polyps that are the precursor to colorectal cancer after polyp removal.

Results from the team's work on chemoprevention of colorectal cancer were published online Dec. 5, 2016, in The BMJ.

"For most patients, nonaspirin NSAIDs such as ibuprofen work better than aspirin or a host of nutritional supplements to prevent the growth of advanced adenomas," said M. Hassan Murad, M.D., lead author of the paper and an epidemiologist and preventive medicine physician at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota. "Since most colorectal cancers develop from this type of polyp, preventing polyps is a good proxy for colorectal cancer prevention."

Using a meta-analysis — a statistical research method that combines data from multiple studies — Dr. Murad and his colleagues showed that nonaspirin NSAIDs are better than all therapies for preventing recurrence of adenomatous polyps within three to five years of initial polyp removal.

However, because of some of the other health risks of nonaspirin NSAIDs, Dr. Murad said they might not be the best choice for everyone.

"It is important for patients and doctors to have a discussion on the various risks and benefits of any medication or other therapy," Dr. Murad said. "While a research publication may contain promising findings, it is generalized information, and each individual is different. So their care will be individualized, as well."