Effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on cancer sites other than the colon and rectum: a meta-analysis

BMC Cancer. 2003 Oct 31;3:28. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-3-28.


Background: Observational studies have consistently shown that aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use is associated with a close to 50% reduced risk of colorectal cancer. Studies assessing the effects of NSAIDs on other cancers have shown conflicting results. Therefore, we conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate the relationship between NSAID use and cancer other than colorectal.

Methods: We performed a search in Medline (from 1966 to 2002) and identified a total of 47 articles (13 cohort and 34 case-control studies). Overall estimates of the relative risk (RR) were calculated for each cancer site using random effects models.

Results: Aspirin use was associated with a reduced risk of cancer of the esophagus and the stomach (RR, 0.51; 95%CI (0.38-0.69), and 0.73; 95%CI (0.63-0.84)). Use of NSAIDs was similarly associated with a lower risk of esophageal and gastric cancers (RR,0.65; 95% CI(0.46-0.92) and RR,0.54; 95%CI (0.39-0.75)). Among other cancers, only the results obtained for breast cancer were fairly consistent in showing a slight reduced risk among NSAID and aspirin users (RR, 0.77; 95%CI (0.66-0.88), and RR, 0.77; 95%CI (0.69-0.86) respectively)).

Conclusions: The results of this meta-analysis show that the potential chemopreventive role of NSAIDs in colorectal cancer might be extended to other gastrointestinal cancers such as esophagus and stomach. Further research is required to evaluate the role of NSAIDs at other cancers sites.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Aspirin / therapeutic use*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Aspirin