To examine whether anti-inflammatory drug treatment protects against the commoner cancers in the United Kingdom.
Case-control study using the general practice research database.
Practices throughout United Kingdom providing data to the database.
Patients who had a first diagnosis of five gastrointestinal (oesophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, and pancreas) cancers and four non-gastrointestinal (bladder, breast, lung, and prostate) cancers in 1993-5 for whom prescription data were available for the at least the previous 36 months. Each case was matched for age, sex, and general practice with three controls.
Main outcome measure
Risk of cancer.
In 12174 cancer cases and 34934 controls overall risk of the nine cancers was not significantly reduced among those who had received at least seven prescriptions in the 13-36 months before cancer diagnosis (odds ratio 0.98, 95% confidence interval 0.89 to 1.07). Findings were nevertheless compatible with protective effects from anti-inflammatory drugs against cancers of the oesophagus (0.64, 0.41 to 0.98), stomach (0.51, 0.33 to 0.79), colon (0.76, 0.58 to 1.00), and rectum (0.75, 0.49 to 1.14) with dose related trends. The risk of pancreatic cancer (1.49, 1.02 to 2.18) and prostatic cancer (1.33, 1.07 to1.64) was increased among patients who had received at least seven prescriptions, but the trend was dose related for only pancreatic cancer.
Anti-inflammatory drugs may protect against oesophageal and gastric cancer as well as colon and rectal cancer. The increased risks of pancreatic and prostatic cancer could be due to chance or to undetected biases and warrant further investigation.