Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and COX-2 inhibitors have been associated with lower incidence rates of some cancers. Because asbestos can cause chronic inflammation at the pleural and peritoneal surfaces we hypothesised that NSAID and COX-2 inhibitors would inhibit the development of asbestos-induced mesothelioma.
Materials and methods
A murine model of asbestos-induced mesothelioma was used to test this hypothesis by providing the NSAID, aspirin, daily in the feed at 50 mg/kg or 250 mg/kg. In a parallel study, the relationship between the use of NSAID and COX-2 inhibitors and mesothelioma was investigated in a human cohort of 1738 asbestos exposed people living or working in Wittenoom, Western Australia (a crocidolite mine site).
Aspirin did not alter the rate of disease development or increase the length of time that mice survived. Aspirin had a small but significant effect on disease latency (the time between asbestos exposure and first evidence of disease; p < 0.05) but disease progression was not affected by the continued presence of the drug. In the Wittenoom cohort, individuals who reported use of NSAIDs, COX-2 inhibitors or both did not have a lower incidence of mesothelioma (HR = 0.85; 95% CI = 0.53–1.37, p = 0.50), (HR = 0.69; 95% CI = 0.21–2.30, p = 0.55) and (HR = 0.43; 95% CI = 0.16–1.13, p = 0.087) respectively.ConclusionWe conclude that NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors do not moderate mesothelioma development or progression in a human cohort exposed to asbestos and this result is confirmed in an autochthonous mouse model.