Aspirin may protect women from the most dangerous form of skin cancer, research has shown.

The longer a woman takes the painkiller, the lower the risk of melanoma, scientists discovered.

Researchers in the US observed women aged 50 to 79 for an average of 12 years and recorded any cases of cancer.

The women were questioned about what medications they took as well as their diet and lifestyle.

A Third Of People Can't Identify Signs Of Skin Cancer

Data from 59,806 women showed that those who took more aspirin were less likely to develop melanoma skin cancer.

Overall, aspirin users were 21% less at risk than non-users.

Each step-rise in the duration of aspirin use was associated with a greater degree of protection.

Women who had regularly been taking aspirin for five or more years were 30% less likely to develop melanoma than women who did not use aspirin.

The scientists controlled for differences in skin pigmentation, tanning practices, sunscreen use, and other factors that might affect the risk of skin cancer.

Sun Cream Ingredient 'Zinc Oxide' Linked To Skin Cancer

"Aspirin works by reducing inflammation and this may be why using aspirin may lower your risk of developing melanoma," said study leader Dr Jean Tang, from Stanford University School of Medicine in the US.

The findings are published in an early online edition of the journal Cancer.

Other pain-killing medicines, such as paracetamol, did not lower melanoma risk, said Dr Tang.

The results justified a bigger clinical trial to see whether aspirin can be taken to prevent the disease, she added.

The research formed part of the Women's Health Initiative, a major US investigation into links between lifestyle and disease.

Each year around 13,000 people are diagnosed with malignant melanoma in the UK and 2,200 die from the disease.

Earlier on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Skin Cancer Breakthroughs

  • Aspirin Could Protect Women

    Aspirin may protect women from the most dangerous form of skin cancer, research has shown. The longer a woman takes the painkiller, the lower the risk of melanoma, scientists discovered. Read more <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/03/11/health-aspirin-cuts-skin-cancer-risk_n_2851426.html">here</a>.

  • Vitamin A 'Could Prevent Skin Cancer'

    Taking daily vitamin A supplements could protect against deadly melanoma skin cancer, scientists claim. According to researchers from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research, a compound found in vitamin A, (Retinol), is vital for protecting against skin cancer. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/03/02/daily-vitamin-could-prevent-skin-cancer_n_1315778.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.

  • Skin Cancer Drug 'Almost Doubles Survival Times' In Patients

    A twice-daily skin cancer drug almost doubles the survival times of advanced cancer patients, American scientists have discovered. Researchers from the Jonsson Cancer Center at the University of California, found that advanced melanoma cancer sufferers lived on average of 16 months after receiving the vemurafenib drug. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/02/23/skin-cancer-drug-zelboraf-doubles-survival-times_n_1295896.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.

  • 'Radioactive Paint' Could Cure Skin Cancer Tumours In Two Hours

    Italian scientists have discovered a new, non-surgical skin cancer treatment using radioactive 'paint' which could save up to 3,000 lives a year - and can be done in as little as two hours. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/06/cream-could-cure-skin-cancer-in-two-hours_n_1189136.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.

  • Young People 'Encouraged' To Use Sunbeds

    A cancer charity has warned that four in 10 young people under the age of 25 are being 'encouraged' to use sunbeds by their friends. The Cancer Research UK discovered that 26% of 18 to 24-year olds have been given the push to use sunbeds by friends or a family member when using it for the first time. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/19/young-people-encouraged-to-use-sunbeds_n_1215361.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.

  • Skin Cancer Tablet That Costs 5p

    A tablet costing a mere five pence a day could be the key to stopping deadly cancer tumours developing, recent research published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention has found. Scientists from Ohio State University and Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark looked at the records of 4,000 people battling severe forms of cancer. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/10/10/the-5p-beta-blocker-pill-that-helps-prevent-cancer-growth_n_1003011.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.

  • 'Encouraging' Skin Cancer Gene Discovered

    Scientists have said an "encouraging" discovery has been made in the fight against the most dangerous form of skin cancer. A team from the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow said it has proved that a specific gene, P-Rex1, must be present before malignant melanoma can spread in a patient. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/02/skin-cancer-study-makes-new-gene-discovery_n_1124964.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.

  • One In Six Women Believe Fake Tan Protects Against Sun Damage

    Millions of women are putting their lives at risk because of a mistaken belief that a spray tan will protect them from the sun's harmful rays. One in six women believe that fake tan acts like a sunscreen while nearly half think their foundation and make-up provides them with UV protection. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/09/20/one-in-six-women-believe-fake-tan-protects-against-sun-damage_n_971918.html" target="_hplink">Read the full story here</a></strong>.