KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Can an aspirin a day keep skin cancer away? A recent study found it could prevent melanoma in some women.
Catie Clinard, 22, is back for a checkup at the University of Tennessee's Cancer Institute with her oncologist, Dr. James Lewis.
A scar across her torso is a constant reminder of her melanoma diagnosis just last year. It started with a small mole that quickly grew.
"I noticed it had gone from nothing to about the size of a pencil eraser in about five months," Clinard said.
Now a grad student at UT, Catie spent four to five hours a day, six days a week playing golf as a member of the Austin Peay college team.
She used to go to the tanning bed for special occasions like vacation.
"Looking back, I now know those few times I went to the tanning bed probably contributed to me getting melanoma," she said.
But could a regular aspirin regimen have protected Catie?
According to a new study, she doesn't fall into the age group of women who do seem to lower their risk of melanoma by taking 325 milligrams of aspirin at least twice a week.
The Women's Health Initiative study of 60,000 women found that the anti-inflammatory properties of aspirin known to fight other cancers may now help post-menopausal women avoid the deadliest form of skin cancer.
While Dr. Lewis says while it's optimistic news, it doesn't mean every woman should start taking aspirin every day.
"We don't want everyone to go out and start taking massive amounts of aspirin. That can cause significant problems. We need to focus on the things we do know for sure," he said.
Like avoiding too much sun, staying out of the tanning bed, and using SPF 30 sunscreen.
It's something Catie has learned at a young age. She wants to spare other young women the same devastating diagnosis.
"Just the word 'cancer' itself is really scary, especially when you're only 21 years old," she said.
Dr. Lewis said, as always, check with your doctor about whether you're a good candidate for a daily aspirin, because while it can help fight some cancers, it also carries some health risks.