Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Comments on Lancet aspirin study

In light of the Lancet study showing that aspirin may reduce cancer risk by 20% over a twenty to thirty year period in healthy individuals, BBC writer Fergus Walsh explains how he is going to start taking aspirin despite aspirin's known risks.

We would warn Mr. Walsh that it does not have to be a black and white issue. While we do not dispute that aspirin can be effective in some individuals for certain chronic diseases, it can be devastating to others. Recent evidence, especially with heart disease and type 2 diabetes, have gone away from recommending aspirin in healthy individuals because its effectiveness does not outweigh the risk of adverse effects.

Mr. Walsh, you do not have to blindly take aspirin for the next 20-30 years without knowing if it is damaging to you (several people shared their horror stories in the comments section of his article). A simple, while expensive, genetic test can discover whether or not you can metabolize aspirin. A good portion of the human population unfortunately does not. So would it not be more responsible to have added this to your article for not just your own safety, but for that of your readers?

P.S. Confirmation of low-dose aspirin's side effects: A recent American Journal of Gastroenterology study found that overall, 42.2% of aspirin-treated subjects developed multiple erosions and/or ulcers. Gastroduodenal ulcers were observed in 17.6% of aspirin-treated subjects. Low-dose aspirin induced a surprisingly high incidence of acute gastroduodenal ulcers, highlighting that aspirin's upper GI risk begins early and may require gastroprotection.

On a positive note, the purpose of this study was to find a substance that could help reduce the ulcers. Researchers found the phospholipid, phospatidylcholine, when added to aspirin, significantly reduced mucosal damage. Only 22% of subjects developed multiple erosions/ulcers and only 5.1% had gastroduodenal ulcers.

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