Aspirin – should you be taking it?

What can’t aspirin do? Clean the toilet, perhaps. This little ‘wonder drug’, medically known as acetylsalicylic acid, was developed in 1897 and marketed to the world in 1899, initially to relieve the pain of rheumatism. These days, however, a new use for aspirin seems to pop up daily, with one of the latest being preventing dementia.

So, should you be swallowing this little pill daily, just in case? Well, that careful decision is best left between you and your doctor. All we can do is list some of the well-known and potential benefits of aspirin, as well as the risks, of course.

Benefits of aspirin

Low-dose aspirin, around 75–100mg, when taken daily:

  • reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes while increasing your chances of surviving them (well-known benefit and confirmed by research)
  • reduces the risk of cancer of the colon, oesophagus, stomach, rectum and prostate (indicated by recent research)
  • may help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease (suggested by recent research)


For pain, higher doses are needed, although it’s not a daily, but rather ‘when necessary’ affair.

Risks of aspirin

If it weren’t for aspirin’s side effects, I guess doctors would pretty much give it to everybody, and the government would put it in our water.

One of the main concerns with aspirin is its risk of increasing stomach acid, which can, over time, wear down the stomach’s lining and increase the occurrence of gut ulcers, which can cause internal bleeding.

Aspirin can also increase the risk of bleeding in general, which raises the odds of having a haemorrhagic stroke caused by a bleed in the brain due to a burst blood vessel.

Whether or not you take aspirin is a careful balance between the benefits you’ll receive and any potential risks, both of which can vary depending on your overall health. So talk to your doctor first, rather than making any moves on your own.

Read more at WebMD.

Related articles:
Should all people over a certain age take aspirin?
Could aspirin prevent Alzheimer’s?
Aspirin reduces cancer risk

YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.
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