In addition, the risk was 19 percent lower if these drugs were used for less than four years. For those who used non-aspirin NSAIDs regularly for four to 10 years the risk for renal cell cancer increased 36 percent and went up almost three times for those who used these drugs regularly for 10 years or more, Cho's group found.
Eric Jacobs, strategic director of pharmacoepidemiology at the American Cancer Society, said that "this well-designed study adds to the evidence that long-term regular use of non-aspirin NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, may modestly increase risk of kidney cancer."
To put the result into perspective, kidney cancer is not especially common and all pain relievers have potential risks that need to be considered, he said. "Two important causes of kidney cancer are obesity and smoking, so maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking will greatly reduce risk of developing this cancer," Jacobs added.
Another expert, Dr. Matthew Galsky, an assistant professor of medicine, hematology, medical oncology and urology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, doesn't think most people taking NSAIDs have to worry.
"The absolute risk is really on the small side. It's nine to 10 per 100,000 person years," he said. "So many patients take these medications and so many benefit from them; the risk is really on the small side."
Most patients taking NSAIDs don't need to worry, Galsky said. "For the average user of non-aspirin NSAIDs the risk is not of significance; for the person taking these medicines daily for over 10 years, it is food for thought," he said.
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