The dangers of aspirin: 7 health risks of taking the drug regularly, according to studies

The dangers of aspirin: 7 health risks of taking the drug regularly, according to studies

Millions of people take over-the-counter aspirin to reduce fever or relieve headaches on a daily basis. While there are some benefits to taking aspirin, there are also risks, especially if it is taken daily.

Some studies have found that taking aspirin regularly can help protect against disease, but others show that it actually does more harm than good. Recent findings from reveal that aspirin increases the risk of heart failure, increases the likelihood of premature death from cancer in the elderly, and can even lead to liver damage in some hospital patients.

The big question is: Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Here are seven health risks from taking aspirin according to studies published in recent years.

A daily dose of aspirin may do more harm than good

A study from the University of Georgia warns that much of Americans’ beliefs about aspirin’s heart-protective benefits come from decades-old research, and would not be considered entirely accurate today. In fact, the study authors say that unless you’ve already had a heart attack or stroke, taking a daily aspirin may do more harm than good.

“We shouldn’t just assume that everyone will benefit from low-dose aspirin, in fact the data shows that the potential benefits are similar to the potential harms for most people who haven’t had cardiovascular disease and are taking it to try,” explains study author and researcher Mark Ebel.

After reviewing decades of research on aspirin use and its effects, Ebel says that under current medical standards, aspirin’s harms may outweigh its benefits. “There are a lot of things we’re doing better now that reduce the risk of cardiovascular and colorectal cancer, which leaves little to no aspirin to do,” he adds.

If someone is concerned about their heart health, but hasn’t actually had a heart attack or stroke, Ebell recommends consulting with their doctor about the best course of action before adopting a daily aspirin regimen.

Read more: A new study puts the health benefits of aspirin into question: A daily dose may do more harm than good

Older adults should not take aspirin to prevent heart disease

A study warned that people over the age of 60 should avoid taking aspirin as a preventative measure against heart disease. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) says the risk of internal bleeding far outweighs any potential benefits for older adults.

Aspirin use for adults between 40 and 59 received a grade of “C” from the USPSTF. This means that the team supports the treatment’s use for some patients and that scientists are certain that patients will get a small benefit – in this case, from taking aspirin to prevent heart disease.

However, taking aspirin to prevent heart disease when you are over 60 earned a “D” score from the team. This means that the USPSTF believes that “the harms outweigh the benefits” and discourages this practice. “Based on current evidence, the task force recommends that people 60 and older start taking aspirin to prevent a first heart attack or stroke,” adds task force vice president Michael Barry, MD, “since the chance of internal bleeding is greater Increasing with age, the potential harms of aspirin use negate the benefits in this age group.”

Read more: New study warns that adults over 60 should not take aspirin to prevent heart disease

May increase the risk of heart failure

Researchers from the European Society of Cardiology report that taking aspirin increases the risk of heart failure among people with at least one pre-existing health risk. These include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease.

In a study of nearly 31,000 people at high risk of heart failure, the team found that aspirin users saw their chances of being diagnosed with heart failure increased by 26 percent. The researchers defined “at risk” as anyone with a pre-existing health condition.

To confirm their findings, the study authors compared readings between aspirin users and nonusers. They also examined 74 percent of the study group that was free of cardiovascular disease (22,690 people) and found that aspirin use increased the risk of heart failure by 27 percent, too.

“This is the first study to suggest that among individuals with at least one risk factor for heart failure, those taking aspirin were more likely to develop the condition later than those not using the drug,” says study author Dr Blerim Mujage from the university. . Freiburg.

Read more: Aspirin increases the risk of heart failure by more than 25%.

It can cause liver damage in hospital patients

Common pain relievers, including aspirin, can cause liver damage in hospital patients.

Research warns that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which also include ibuprofen and naproxen, pose a risk to liver health. Scientists in China warn that doctors and patients need to be aware of their dangers. Patients with high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, pre-existing liver disease, and those with a history of previous surgeries are most at risk. The results came from an analysis of hospital records for 156,570 patients.

“Our results showed that the infection rate in hospitalized patients was 13 times higher than that of the general population in mainland China,” corresponding author Dr. Daehong Guo of the People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing said in a statement. “The incidence of liver injury for many drugs has been seriously underestimated.”

Read more: Common pain relievers like ibuprofen can lead to liver damage in hospital patients

Aspirin increases the risk of premature death from cancer in the elderly

A study suggests that taking a daily aspirin may promote the development of cancer and lead to premature death among the elderly. The study was the first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to examine low-dose aspirin in healthy older adults.

Researchers say aspirin is linked to a 19% increased risk of cancer. There is also a 22% higher risk that doctors will discover advanced cancer. Among those who develop advanced cancers, those who take aspirin are also more likely to die.

“Deaths were particularly high among those who took aspirin and those diagnosed with advanced solid cancers, suggesting a potentially harmful effect of aspirin on the growth of cancers once they have already developed in the elderly,” senior author Andrew Chan says. “Although these findings suggest that we should be cautious about initiating aspirin therapy in healthy older adults, this does not mean that individuals who are already taking aspirin – especially if they start taking it at a younger age – should discontinue their aspirin regimen. them.”

Read more: Aspirin increases the risk of premature death from cancer in the elderly

It does not reduce the risk of dementia in the elderly

Research published in the journal Neurology found that even small doses of aspirin had no beneficial effect on the brain. Scientists had hoped that taking a daily aspirin would reduce the chances of developing dementia by decreasing inflammation in the brain and reducing blood clotting.

The study followed 19,114 people for nearly five years. Most of the participants are at least 70 years old and have no history of heart disease or dementia. To track their mental health, the elderly took tests in thinking and memory throughout the duration of the project. Although some patients were given low-dose aspirin and others a placebo, researchers say there was no difference between the two groups and who started out with mental disabilities.

“Unfortunately, our large study found that daily low-dose aspirin provided no benefit to study participants in either preventing dementia or slowing cognitive decline,” says study author Joan Ryan from Monash University School of Public Health in Melbourne, Australia.

Read more: Study finds that taking aspirin does not reduce the risk of dementia in older adults

It will not prolong healthy aging in the elderly

Doctors might suggest blasting an aspirin every day in patients at high risk of a heart attack, but there don’t seem to be many reasons why healthy older adults would take the drug. A study conducted by researchers at Rush University in Chicago found that daily low doses of aspirin had no effect on healthy aging among older adults over the age of 70.

That is, taking 100 milligrams of the drug daily did not play any role in preventing dementia or physical disabilities in healthy individuals.

The large international trial, which began in 2010, focused on the potential risks and benefits of low-dose aspirin for older adults who had no prior cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, mental and physical disabilities, or medical conditions that required aspirin use. In addition to finding that aspirin did not prolong what they call “healthy independent living,” they also found that the risk of death from a wide range of causes, such as cancer and heart disease, varied widely in the trial and would require further analysis in follow-up studies.

Read more: Study: Daily aspirin does not prolong healthy aging in older adults

Although these studies show some harmful effects of taking aspirin, be sure to talk to a medical professional about whether or not to take over-the-counter medications. If you have been prescribed a medication, never stop taking your usual doses without talking to your doctor first.

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