Is there any evidence long-term nasal spray use could cause cancer?
February 22, 2021 6:26 PM   Subscribe

I have a dust mite allergy, and have been using a corticosteroid nasal spray (fluticasone furoate) for many years. I have a very unfounded worry that long term use of such nasal sprays might be bad for me, like say leading to nose cancers due to the constant application of a medication to the nose. I googled around a bit but didn't find anything definitive. Am I just being silly?
posted by destrius to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
Best answer: I think that's not really how cancers happen. Yes, you're being a little silly.

That said, I have noticed a slight loss of sense of smell when using too many nasal spray but it goes away after a week of not using the sprays.
posted by bbqturtle at 6:42 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I haven't ever heard that cancer is an issue with corticosteroids.

There is, however, a chance that using a corticosteroid nasal spray may increase the pressure inside your eye. I always have my eyes tested for glaucoma whenever I see an optometrist or ophthalmologist, and this has not been a problem for me. I think everyone should get tested for glaucoma at some point anyway.
posted by chromium at 6:45 PM on February 22 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I did a quick search of the biomedical literature and nothing came up about a link between corticosteroid nasal spray use and cancer.

If anything, it's been hypothesized that using a corticosteroid will reduce cancer risk because the drug is inhibiting inflammation, which can otherwise drive cancer progression.

This is a bit unrelated, but one of the papers I came across reported a higher risk of nasal cancer in people with hay fever (allergic rhinits). However, the authors of the paper pointed out that people with constantly itchy noses are more likely to have their snot caves inspected by a specialist nose doctor, thus increasing their chances of early detection of cancer relative to the general population!
posted by a feather in amber at 8:02 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding bbqturtle with an anecdote: a family member has used nasal spray daily for 40+ years with no resulting diagnosed cancers, but reports almost no ability to smell, a tradeoff they accept for being able to breathe through their nose.
posted by scrubjay at 7:25 AM on February 23

Best answer: Seconding the eye pressure concern. I use them and get my eyes tested for glaucoma every 6 months. I do have slightly elevated eye pressure, but not a concern yet. But regular eye exams are key. And this is not something my family doctor mentioned - my eye doctor did.
posted by Lescha at 9:55 AM on February 23

Response by poster: Thanks for all the responses! I am being silly then. The glaucoma thing is good to know, I should go see an eye doctor soon too.

My next sockpuppet account is going to be called "snot cave seplunker"
posted by destrius at 9:20 PM on February 23

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