Aspirin – The Wonder Drug or Over The Counter Health Hazard?
Millions of people with or without cardiovascular disease take “the wonder drug” due to doctors’ advice and drug company propaganda that daily aspirin will prevent heart attacks and strokes.
For most of a century aspirin has been the preferred treatment for many people troubled by regular or frequent aches and pains, arthritis, headaches, and fever.
Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is a synthesized version of a compound originally discovered in willow bark.
How Aspirin Works
Aspirin is a trade name for the drug acetylsalicylic acid and belongs to a group of medicines known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).Aspirin is an enzyme inhibitor.
It suppresses the action of the enzyme COX and inhibits the production of prostaglandin, thus disrupting the pathways to pain, inflammation, elevated temperature, and stomach protection.
Prostaglandins secreted by the stomach regulate acid production and maintain the mucus lining that protects the stomach from digesting itself.
Prostaglandins in the blood’s platelets cause the platelets to stick together to initiate blood clotting in wounds. They are crucial to a healthy body. Inhibiting their production leads to aspirin’s undesirable side effects, including upset stomach and excessive bleeding.
Aspirin is not the cure-all that the industry makes it out to be.
It may also not be as cheap as advertised, when calculating the costs of treatment for adverse effects.
Randomized clinical trials testing aspirin in relatively low-risk, middle-aged people have consistently shown small increases in stroke associated with aspirin use.
A cohort study of 5011 elderly people published in the Journal American Heart Asosciation revealed that Aspirin was associated with increased risks of stroke.
In 2007 professor Rothwell 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.
Aspirin also blocks the delta-6 enzyme, thus preventing production of the anti-inflammatory prostaglandin E1. In other words, aspirin, contributes to inflammation and thickening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis), a problem that has never been mentioned in the pro heart -health ads.
Researchers at Oxford discovered that aspirin taken regularly for three years, can lessen the risks of developing cancer by almost 25%. And regular use of aspirin over more than six years also reduced the chances of a cancer metastasising.
However, taking aspirin on regular basis for such a long period, increases the risk of developing other problems.
Acetylsalicylic acid is quite irritating to the gastric mucosa (lining of the stomach). It can quite easily erode the lining resulting in ulceration and gastric bleeding,which again, can be serious, even fatal.
Back in 2004, a study conducted by Harvard Medical School of 88,378 female nurses came to just the opposite conclusion: that taking daily aspirin actually increases your risk of getting pancreatic cancer by an astounding 86%
You might be surprised to learn that suddenly stopping daily aspirin can have a rebound effect that may increase your risk of heart attack and may trigger a blood clot.
Salicylic Acid Sensitivities
Aspirin, being acetylsalicylic acid, is a salicylate and for those who are sensitive enough, it can cause very serious allergic reactions, even to the point of anaphylactic shock and death.
While salicylic acid is found naturally in plants as salicylates, acetyl-salicylic acid does not exist in nature, is not formed as byproduct of natural salicylate consumption, and is produced only through industrial synthesis.
A study published in 2009 in the Journal Current Medical Research & Opinion titled, found that ASA causes significant gastroduodenal damage even at the low doses.
Another 2009 study found that 80% of healthy individuals who use short-term (14 days), low-dose aspirin experienced small intestinal toxicity, including small bowel mucosal breaks and mucosal inflammation.
Aspirin & Intestinal Bleeding
Most people think that aspirin is pretty safe except for minor stomach upset, but that’s not quite true.
It’s not just a question of irritated stomachs. As we’ve already discussed, since COX-1 protects the stomach lining and supports platelets and blood clotting, aspirin can cause ulcers in the stomach and duodenum and promote bleeding once those ulcers have started.
In fact, even the smallest dose of aspirin causes some degree of intestinal bleeding.
But beyond that, too much aspirin actually can poison you, a condition known as salicylism. Symptoms include tinnitus, nausea, vomiting, acute pancreatitis, and on some occasions, death.
There really is no safe dose of aspirin.
Aspirin has been linked to such a broad range of adverse health effects:
- Stomach and Duodenal Ulcers
- Reye Syndrome
- Crohn’s Disease
- Helicobacter Pylori Infection
- Hearing Loss/Tinnitus
- Kidney Disfunction
- Chronic rhinitis and nasal Polyps
Interestingly, acetylsalicylic acid may be purchased over the counter without need for a prescription.
Marketed and prescribed for daily use to prevent heart attack, aspirin depletes the body of essential nutrients like folic acid, iron, potassium, sodium. Aspirin may reduce antioxidant activity by blocking Vitamin C entry into cells.
What Are The Best Alternatives To Aspirin?
Studies indicate that supplementation of as little as 200 IU daily in men can reduce the risk of a heart attack.
Omega-3 fatty acids will do a much better job of boosting your cardiovascular health and they come with none of the risks of daily aspirin use.
Omega-3-EPA oils reduce platelet stickiness. Good dietary sources include flax seed oil, rice bran oil, trout, mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, cod, halibut, and shark.
Magnesium has anticoagulant properties which, when combined with vitamin E, produce significant blood clotting reduction.
Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme (helps digest protein) which is not only anti-inflammatory in its effects, but prevents excessive coagulation of the blood by clearing undigested fibrin and other harmful proteins in the bloodstream. It has been shown to reduce pain and swelling, improves joint mobility and promotes tissue repair.
Simple lifestyle changes such as reducing refined carbohydrate and trans fat intake, eating more alkaline foods (low-carb veggies and fruits) and exercising can have a tremendously positive effect on your cardiovascular system, arthritis and overall health.
Garlic`s ability to lower blood triglyceride levels and blood-thinning effect is part of an ancient tradition.
- Aspirin, Major Cause of Ulcers and Bleeding from the Bowel
- Aspirin Dangers Revealed
- Deadly Warning on Daily Aspirin Use
- Vioxx (Anti-inflammatory Drug) Causes Heart Attacks & Strokes
- Eating To Reduce Inflammation
Gurkirpal Singh, “Recent considerations in nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug gastropathy”,The American Journal of Medicine, Volume 105, Issue 1, Supplement 2, 1998, http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(98)00072-2/abstract
R. Kronmal, R. Hart, T.A. Manolio, R.L. Talbert, N.J. Beauchamp, A. Newman, “Aspirin Use and Incident Stroke in the Cardiovascular Health Study”, American Heart Association, 1997, http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/29/5/887.full
Neville D Yeomans, Christopher J Hawkey, Wayne Brailsford, Jørgen Naesdal, “Gastroduodenal toxicity of low-dose acetylsalicylic acid: a comparison with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs”, Current Medical Research & Opinion, 2009, Nov;25(11):2785-93. PMID: 19788350
“Incidence of small bowel injury induced by low-dose aspirin: a crossover study using capsule endoscopy in healthy volunteers”. Digestion. 2009;79(1):44-51. Epub 2009 Feb 26. PMID: 19246922