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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Long-Term Painkiller Use Linked to Kidney Cancer

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Sept. 12, 2011 -- Long-term, regular use of non-aspirin anti-inflammatory painkillers raises the likelihood of developing kidney cancer by more than 50%, a study shows.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, suggests men and women who take such drugs are equally at risk.

Some smaller studies had previously shown a tentative link between painkillers and kidney cancer. But study researcher Eunyoung Cho, ScD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, says this is the largest study to look at the relationship between the disease and the class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Drugs in this class include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and Celebrex. Though aspirin is also an NSAID, no association has been found between kidney cancer and aspirin.

Cho says that the overall risk is still quite low. She does not think that people should stop taking NSAIDs in the short term or that doctors should stop recommending them to patients who otherwise benefit from them.

Kidney cancer specialist Christopher W. Ryan, MD, who was not involved in the study, agrees.

"Occasional use for aches and pains is nothing to worry about," says Ryan, of Oregon Health and Science University's Knight Cancer Institute in Portland. "But one's risk of getting kidney cancer, even for a long-time user, is not high at all."


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