Patients who had taken NSAIDs longest and most consistently had the best chances of surviving, says lead study author Anna E. Coghill, PhD, MPH, a former pre-doctoral researcher at  Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and now a post-doctoral research fellow at the National Cancer Institute.

“Decreased inflammation in the body [from the NSAIDs] is likely one of the contributing factors to the reduction in colorectal cancer mortality,” says Coghill.

In other studies, NSAIDS have reduced colon cancer mortality throughout the colon, she says.  “However, tumors in different parts of the colon have different molecular profiles, which may make them better or worse targets for medications.”

Whether the protection outweighs the risks of NSAIDs is a topic to talk about with your doctor, says Coghill: “Both the risk of colorectal cancer and the projected cancer outcome need to be considered in light of potential medication side effects.”

NSAID use can increase cardiac disease and worsen hypertension.  So the risks and benefits of NSAID use have to be discussed with your doctor.

Biologics (including TNF inhibitors)
What they do for RA:
 Biologics such as etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade) inhibit parts of the immune system that cause inflammation, slowing the disease’s progression
Known Risks: One TNF inhibitor, infliximab is given intravenously and so there may be pain or rash at the injection site.  And biologics raise the risk of infection.

Potential Benefits:  In a 2013 review article, researchers at the University of Foggia in Foggia, Italy, found that many biologics show a positive trend in reducing bone loss that may have resulted from lowering inflammation.

TNF inhibitors decreased markers of bone breakdown and beefed up markers of bone formation.  Some studies reviewed also showed increased bone mineral density, or bone strength.