Nightly News   |  March 11, 2013

Aspirin may reduce risk of malignant melanoma

In one of the largest studies of its kind, new research suggests aspirin could play a role in preventing the most dangerous type of skin cancer – one that’s on the rise among women. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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>>> the area story making headlines in the health tonight is aspirin and melanoma. it focused attention on the uses and wonders of aspirin. our report from our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman .

>> remember, doctors recommend aspirin.

>> reporter: for years this simple pill sold over the counter in stores across the country has been the go-to drug for aches and pains. increase dpli aspirin has been called a wonder drug with evidence it can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, even some cancers. now in one of the largest studies of its kind new research suggests it may reduce a woman's chance of developing malignant mel no anom melanoma.

>> this is important. melanoma is increasing and on the rise in women. there are no great preventive strategies besides sunscreen and sun avoidance.

>> reporter: this study follows 60,000 caucasian women ages 50 to 79. they were put in three groups. those who took aspirin only. those who took nsaids and those who took neither. during an average follow up period of 12 years 548 women developed melanoma. women in the aspirin-only group were the least likely to develop the disease. some 20% lower than the other groups. and the longer they took it, the fewer cases there were. researchers took into account factors like prior skin cancer , sun exposure , sunscreen use, skin type and tanning habits.

>> we found women who took aspirin for greater than five years had the greatest amount of protection against melanoma.

>> reporter: with with more than a million cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the u.s. each year, any chance those numbers may diminish gets attention. it gets attention but also a reminder that the use of aspirin is not to be used lightly because of the risk of bleeding. it is not a substitute for anything like covering your skin, sun tan lotion or just covering up. nonetheless, brian, tonight, very interesting.

>> another wonder for the list of the wonder drug.

>> it is. you couldn't get it on the market today. it would cost $1 a