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Long term use of painkillers can cause kidney cancer

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Sajeev Kumar 90% (38922 ratings)
C.S.C, D.C.H, M.B.B.S
General Physician, Alappuzha  •  35 years experience
Long term use of painkillers can cause kidney cancer
A study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine has shown that people who regularly take painkiller drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen are 51 percent more likely to develop kidney cancer. There is no increased risk from taking aspirin or paracetamol. The mechanism through which painkillers could cause kidney disease is the inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis with resulting papillary and tubular injury, and ultimately damage to DNA.

The study analyzed data from 77,525 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and from 49,403 men in the Health Professionals Follow–up Study. The risk was related to the duration of use of the painkillers. There was a decrease in the risk by 19% if the painkiller was used for less than four years. There was a 36 per cent increase in risk of kidney cancer for people who used them regularly for 4 to 10 years. The risk increased almost three times for those who used these drugs regularly for 10 years or more.

The good news is that kidney cancer is uncommon so the risk is small for average users.

Two other important causes of kidney cancer are obesity and smoking. So people on painkillers should not smoke and should also keep their weight under control to prevent kidney cancer.
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