American Association for Cancer Research

AACR Press Releases

Analgesics Use Associated With Increased Risk for Renal Cell Carcinoma


October 24, 2011

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  • Use of aspirin was not associated with risk for renal cell cancer.
  • Acetaminophen and nonaspirin NSAID use increased risk.
  • Researchers observed similar risk trends for high-dose analgesics use.

BOSTON — Use of acetaminophen and nonaspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs was associated with a significantly increased risk for developing renal cell carcinoma, according to data presented at the 10th AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, held Oct. 22-25, 2011.

Eunyoung Cho, Sc.D., assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted a preliminary meta-analysis of 18 studies from six countries to examine analgesics use and its relation to the risk for renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

“Our meta-analysis was the largest analysis of analgesics and risk for RCC,” Cho said. “Our study is the first few of those studies raising [the] possibility that these commonly used painkillers may elevate the risk for certain types of cancer.”

Cho and colleagues conducted a Medline database search for case-control or cohort studies on acetaminophen, aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), published between 1966 and July 1, 2011. They found 12 studies examining risk for acetaminophen, 12 for aspirin and five for NSAIDs.

Results demonstrated that any use of acetaminophen was associated with a 33 percent increased risk for RCC, and use of other NSAIDs was linked with a 26 percent increased risk. No significantly increased risk for RCC was found with the use of aspirin.

The meta-analysis revealed similar trends with high-dose analgesics intake. Researchers found no significant difference in associations based on study design, type of controls in case-control studies, study outcome or gender.

“The positive association with nonaspirin NSAIDs was somewhat expected since we recently published on the association from two prospective studies [in Archives of Internal Medicine], which were included in this meta-analysis,” Cho said. “However, the association with use of acetaminophen was not found in the publication and was thus unexpected. Several relatively small studies of use of acetaminophen and RCC did suggest positive associations. When we conducted a meta-analysis of these studies to improve statistical power, the summary results came out statistically significant.”

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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 33,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards to young investigators, and it also funds cutting-edge research projects conducted by senior researchers. The AACR has numerous fruitful collaborations with organizations and foundations in the U.S. and abroad, and functions as the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, a charitable initiative that supports groundbreaking research aimed at getting new cancer treatments to patients in an accelerated time frame. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special Conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care, and Educational Workshops are held for the training of young cancer investigators. The AACR publishes seven major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Discovery; Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Prevention Research. In 2010, AACR journals received 20 percent of the total number of citations given to oncology journals. The AACR also publishes Cancer Today, a magazine for cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers, which provides practical knowledge and new hope for cancer survivors. A major goal of the AACR is to educate the general public and policymakers about the value of cancer research in improving public health, the vital importance of increases in sustained funding for cancer research and biomedical science, and the need for national policies that foster innovation and the acceleration of progress against the 200 diseases we call cancer.

Media Contact:
Jeremy Moore
(267) 646-0557
Jeremy.Moore@aacr.org
In Boston, Oct. 22-25, 2011:
(617) 954-2674