Aspirin & Other Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)


Aspirin is the first NSAID drug class to be discovered. It contains salicylate, found in the willow tree and myrtle, used by Hippocrates for alleviating pain, reducing fever. Aspirin has many uses which include, relieving pain, swelling, reducing the risk of cardiovascular events. 

Aspirin is recommended to relieve mild to moderate pain, swelling caused by headaches, migraines, colds or flu, sprains, menstrual cramps. For severe pain aspirin is recommended along with other opioid pain-relieving medication or NSAIDs.

Aspirin can also be recommended to treat coronary events, administering after a heart attack or stroke to prevent clot formation, who underwent angioplasty or coronary bypass surgery.

The aspirin is recommended in low doses in patients who have a heart or blood vessel disease, individuals with retinal damage, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, or who smoke.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are the most prescribed medications to treat conditions like arthritis. Medications like aspirin, ibuprofen are known as over the counter medications, nonprescription NSAIDs. Along with pain-relieving properties, they also help with reducing inflammation, lowering body temperature (fever).

Some examples of NSAIDs include aspirin, celecoxib, diclofenac, ibuprofen, and mefenamic acid.

NSAIDs can help with easing minor or short term inflammation and pain caused by arthritis, backache, headache, cold or flu, period pain, sprains, muscle pains, toothache.

Aspirin and Cancer

A study regarded aspirin to confer the cancer-protective, as a positive association of survival rate of some cancers like breast, and bladder cancers. Even though these effects are not found for oesophagal, gastric, pancreatic, or uterine cancers.

The Colorectal adenoma/Carcinoma prevention programme 2 (CAPP2) a meta-analysis study has shown evidence that aspirin can act as a chemopreventive.

A Randomized Controlled trial has shown evidence that aspirin has shown chemopreventive effect in sporadic colorectal adenoma subjects.

NSAIDs and Cancer

The common property of NSAIDs is their ability to block cyclooxygenase enzyme (COX) or prostaglandin endoperoxide H synthase (PGHS). COX enzymes are known as mediators of inflammation, also was found that COX is overexpressed (a key interpretation between metastasis and invasion)in various cancer types like breast, colon, lung, pancreatic, prostate cancer. NSAIDs help in cancer prevention and cancer therapy as they can inhibit COX enzymes because there is a close relationship between chronic inflammation and cancer.

Side effects and risk factors

  • The side effects of NSAIDs include nausea, stomach upset, ulcer, interference with the function of kidneys.
  • It is important to inform the doctor if you are pregnant, have asthma, high blood pressure, any history or previous experience of kidney or liver diseases, ulcers, are above the age of 65 because they are considered as risk factors, as NSAIDs can interfere with other medications or increase the side effects or enhance the severity of the problematic condition that is being experienced currently.
  • The common side effects of taking aspirin include indigestion, nausea, stomach or gut irritation. Sometimes adverse reactions can also be seen like bruising, inflammation and bleeding of stomach, vomiting, worsening of asthma symptoms.
  • Aspirin can interact with some drugs making them less effective or sometimes can lead to complications, the drugs include anti-inflammatory painkillers (ibuprofen, diclofenac), antidepressants and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (citalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine), as they can increase the risk of bleeding, warfarin, methotrexate- used for cancer treatment and other autoimmune disorders. 
  • The risk factors for ingesting Aspirin may include Individuals with a bleeding disorder like haemophilia, high blood pressure, asthma, stomach ulcers, liver or kidney disorders, pregnancy or breastfeeding women, undergoing dental surgery, alcohol drinking.