Painkillers: The pain relievers that could increase your cancer risk ‘almost threefold’

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Pain relievers have revolutionised healthcare, bringing respite to millions of sufferers around the globe on a daily basis. A number of studies, however, have raised questions about the supposed benefits of taking the pill long-term. Treatment with certain painkillers for more than 10 years, could increase the risk of kidney cancer threefold, according to one body of research.

The findings, reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2018, suggested that non-aspirin NSAIDs could increase the risk of kidney cancer by 51 percent.

Drugs in this class include ibuprofen, naproxen and Celebrex.

The pills, designed to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, have in fact been linked to a reduced risk of many cancers.

According to the results, however, the risk of kidney cancer appears to increase in line with the duration of treatment.

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According to the study, treatment with the pills spanning more than 10 years was associated with an almost threefold increase in relative risk.

Not all NSAIDs, however, were associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Aspirin and acetaminophen, for example, appeared to have no effect on the risk of kidney cancer.

The researchers said the findings highlight the need to exercise caution when taking certain painkillers at regular intervals.

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They came to the findings during a study of more than 77,000 women and nearly 50,000 men who have their use of different medications tracked for 16 years and 20 years respectively.

The results revealed non-aspirin NSAIDs used at least twice a week could increase the risk of kidney cancer by 19 percent in women, and six percent in men.

WebMD noted: “The risk for both men and women who regularly took non-aspiring NSAIDs increased by 51 percent during the years analysed.”

Kidney damage typically occurs with drugs taken at high doses, because this damages the tissue and structures of the organ.

According to Hopkins Medicine, long-term exposure to certain painkillers is believed to damage the small filtering vessels inside the kidneys.

The National Kidney Foundation adds: “These drugs can also reduce the blood flow to the kidney.

“If you are older, your kidneys may have a stronger reaction to these medicines and you may need a smaller dose.”

Symptoms of kidney cancer

While symptoms of kidney cancer can appear swiftly, a great number of cases are characterised by slow symptom progression.

The NHS says the warning signs are comparable to those of less serious conditions, such as urinary tract infections and kidney stones.

Blood in your urine could cause it to take on a reddish colour, or appear darker than usual.

Some patients also experience a “persistent pain” in the lower back or side, “just below the ribs,” according to the body.

Finally, a lump or swelling in the side could be another distinct sign of the disease.

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