Exposure to cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors and risk of cancer: nested case-control studies

Br J Cancer. 2011 Jul 26;105(3):452-9. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.252. Epub 2011 Jul 12.


Background: Selective cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) inhibitors are widely used as analgesics and it is unclear whether its long-term use affects cancer risk.

Methods: A series of nested case-control studies using the QResearch primary care database. Associations of COX2 inhibitor use with risk of all cancers and 10 common site-specific cancers were estimated using conditional logistic regression adjusted for comorbidities, smoking status, socioeconomic status, and use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin and statins.

Results: A total of 88,125 cancers, diagnosed between 1998 and 2008, matched with up to five controls, were analysed. Use of COX2 inhibitors for more than a year was associated with a significantly increased risk of breast cancer (odds ratio (OR) 1.24, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08-1.42) and haematological malignancies (OR 1.38, 95% CI 1.12-1.69) and a decreased risk of colorectal cancer (OR 0.76, 95% CI 0.63-0.92). There were no other significant associations.

Conclusion: Prolonged use of COX2 inhibitors was associated with an increased risk of breast and haematological cancers and decreased risk of colorectal cancer. These findings need to be confirmed using other data sources.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors


  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors