Before anyone jumps on the latest mainstream media bandwagon and begins taking daily aspirin to prevent cancer, there are several strong reasons to hesitate. To begin with, the study which produced the media storm was flawed and the claimed benefits are highly questionable.
The new aspirin study was conducted by Professor Peter Rothwell at the Stroke Prevention Research Unit at Oxford University. According to the study, taking an aspirin a day could reduce your risk of cancer within three years after beginning the therapy. Only two years earlier, Professor Rothwell published a previous study which suggested that protective benefits would be seen only after 10 years of daily aspirin use.
The new findings are actually just a re-analysis of about 90 previously published studies. For unexplained reasons, the new analysis failed to look at several major US trials which failed to find any protective benefit from aspirin. Also, the average dose of aspirin in the studies which were examined was far above the recommended “safe” dose of 75 mg.
Professor Rothwell appears to have come full circle regarding aspirin. In 2007 he published a study which found that aspirin was a major cause of stroke in the elderly and had caused a sevenfold increase in strokes over the past twenty five years among elderly patients. At the time, he warned that aspirin could soon replace high blood pressure as the leading cause of stroke among the elderly.
Notably, Professor Rothwell has received honoraria for serving on advisory boards, clinical trial committees and giving talks from some pharmaceutical companies with an interest in anti-platelet agents, including Bayer, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Sanofi-BMS and Servier.
The catch is that there really is no safe dose of aspirin.
Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is a synthesized version of a compound originally discovered in willow bark. One of the more common dangerous side effects of the regular use of aspirin is intestinal bleeding. Other side effects include ulcers, kidney dysfunction, and stroke.
Here are just a few indications of how harmful aspirin can be:
* Researchers from Virginia Medical School, who examined medical records of hospital deaths, estimated that the drug is killing around 20,000 in the US alone.
* Randomized clinical trials testing aspirin in 5011 elderly people showed that use of aspirin caused a 4-fold increase in hemorrhagic stroke and a 1.6- to 1.8-fold increase in ischemic stroke.
* As noted in the 1999 Associated Press article titled “The Silent Epidemic”, death by analgesics (over the counter pain killers such as aspirin and other NSAIDs) is the 15th most common cause of death in America.
* The American Journal of Medicine reported that conservative calculations estimate that approximately 107,000 patients are hospitalized annually for NSAID-related gastrointestinal complications and at least 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur each year among arthritis patients alone
* Each year 1600 children with Reye’s syndrome and other allergies die from taking aspirin.
* Rather than being a nutrient, aspirin is an anti-nutrient. It depletes the body of life-saving nutrient folic acid as well as iron, potassium, sodium, and vitamin C. Symptoms of folic acid depletion include anemia, birth defects, elevated homocysteine (itself a significant heart disease risk factor), fatigue, headache, insomnia, diarrhea, increased infection and hair loss.
Millions of people already take daily aspirin due to doctors’ advice and mainstream propaganda that daily aspirin will prevent heart attacks and strokes. What aspirin does is enable thinner blood to be more easily pushed through clogged arteries.
When it comes to preventing cancer, strokes, heart attacks and other illness, by far the best and healthiest plan is to eat a healthy diet and lead an active and healthy lifestyle.
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