Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have shown promise in preventing certain types of cancers, but their use can also carry an increased risk of gastric ulcers and potentially life-threatening bleeds. However, a new study suggests that combining a proton pump inhibitor with an NSAID could reduce the risk of bladder cancer by as much as 75%. The research appears in the American Association for Cancer Research journal Cancer Prevention Research.

Scientists from the University of Michigan, the National Cancer Institute, and the University of Alabama combined the NSAID naproxen with the proton pump inhibitor omeprazole and tested its effects in a rat model of bladder cancer. While omeprazole alone did not impact the development of bladder cancer, it did not interfere with the effect of naproxen in preventing tumors; indeed, naproxen reduced the incident of bladder cancer by 75%. Rats receiving naproxen alone or in conjunction with omeprazole developed cancer at similar rates while all rats receiving omeprazole alone or no treatment developed bladder cancer. Intermittent three-week dosing with naproxen was also highly effective and likely to reduce gastric toxicity, although there is no clear clinical data to support reduced gastric toxicity associated with naproxen and omeprazole use. Previously, clinical data in human trials has indicated that naproxen plus omeprazole could reduce gastric toxicity by about 70%.

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The results of this study suggest that this combination could be a tool for cancer prevention without the gastric effects associated with NSAIDs. The authors hope to initiate a clinical trial in humans to further evaluate the effects of naproxen plus omeprazole in individuals at an increased risk of colorectal or other cancers.

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