- Why aspirin is not just for pain, and why so many people take it
- Interesting links between aspirin and lower risk of bowel cancer
- Could this popular drug ruin your eyesight?
About a year ago I wrote to you about aspirin.
You might not remember that letter – especially considering all the chaos and misery that’s happened since then!
So to quickly recap…
Aspirin was developed in the late 19th century but it was only in the 1970s that we discovered how it really worked.
The active ingredient in aspirin, salycilic acid, blocks prostaglandin production.
Prostaglandins are compounds which cause inflammation and fever to help the healing process.
Blocking their production can therefore lower the sensation of pain.
However, aspirin has not just been prescribed for problems like headaches or joint pain.
A daily intake can reduce blood clots by inhibiting platelets, so it has also been widely prescribed for heart conditions.
In the 1990s people over the age of fifty were encouraged to take a low dose of aspirin to keep their heart healthy.
This was because it was presumed that there were little, or no, side effects to aspirin.
Many people now take an aspirin a day, without ever having consulted their doctor – assuming that it’s a save preventative.
However, by March 2010, researchers in Oxford published trials which showed that healthy people shouldn’t take aspirin for their heart condition because the risk of internal bleeding was too great.
It seems that the initial advice was misreported – and that GPs and other medical professionals just ran with it, regardless.
Which would make you want to suddenly throw away the aspirin.
But as I wrote in that letter last November, it gets complicated…
Links between aspirin and lower risk of bowel cancer
As well as heart problems, aspirin is prescribed for a variety of conditions including heart conditions, kidney diseases and bowel cancer.
For instance, last year an Oxford University Professor ran a trial which looked at the effect of aspirin on bowel cancer incidence and death rate.
He concluded that those taking aspirin were 24% less likely to develop bowel cancer… and, if they already had it, they were 35% less likely to die from it.
So surely that wonderful benefit negates the risk of bleeding?
Well if you look at the stats again…
The study showed that only 2.5% of those taking aspirin contracted the condition, compared to 4% of those not taking it.
So suddenly it doesn’t seem so impressive.
What’s more, Professor Dion Morton, a surgeon at University Hospital Birmingham, says that unless two of your immediate relatives have developed bowel cancer you shouldn’t even think about taking aspirin.
Then the picture gets muddier again…
In July 2018, research published in The Lancet said that the ‘one-dose-fits-all’ use of aspirin to prevent heart attacks, stroke or cancer, was “ineffective or harmful in the majority of people”.
The research also identified previously unrecognised side effects when the dosage was excessive for that person’s weight.
There was an increase in sudden deaths for those who were at a lower weight…
And an increase in the short-term risk of cancer for lower body-weighted patients aged over 70.
No wonder people get confused about whether to take aspirin or not!
So much conflicting evidence and advice!
As I said to you last year, you should ask your GP about regular aspirin usage in the light of the latest news and research.
Which brings me to the subject of today.
Because, alas, there is a new side effect in town…
Could this popular drug ruin your eyesight?
Last week, a Good Life Letter reader kindly alerted me to a new study in Taiwan by the Health Outcome Research Centre and the Department of Pharmacy, National Cheng Kung University.
It has linked regular aspirin intake to a greater risk of macular degeneration.
The study calculated that the risk of aspirin users developing macular degeneration was 11.95 per thousand people per year compared to 3.92 per thousand people per year for non-users.
However, the articles suggested that patients should not stop taking it without consulting their doctor first.
So I’m passing this on to add to the store of information you have about this drug.
As with many so called ‘wonder drugs’ there are always more side effects than are at first presumed.
If you are concerned about macular degeneration, then I recommend this excellent practical manual, which contains natural ways you can slow down the process of vision loss, or even stop it.
They don’t come with some of the dangers of surgery, nor the hassles and expense of corrective lenses and contact lenses.
For more information, read this: Save Your Sight
And if you take aspirin regularly, here’s another measure you might want to consider…
How to reduce stomach irritation
Regular aspirin usage irritates the stomach, as do anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen and diclofenac.
In which case, try balancing it out with Propargile, a remedy for stomach pain, bloating and discomfort.
It contains clay, which helps flush out toxins – as well as propolis, which can treat gastrointestinal problems – and also pollen which works as an anti-inflammatory.
For more information, have a look at our webpage here.
Hope this information helps you!
Yours as ever