Aspirin – should you be taking it?

A new use for aspirin seems to pop up daily. So, should you be taking it?

Womans hand holding asprin tablets

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.

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    COMMENTS

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    jackie
    12th Feb 2016
    11:36am
    My then healthy, mother got sucked in by Aspirin's claim to reduce heart attacks by taking it for years. Now she has an ulcer and stomach problems.

    High blood pressure and cholesterol are the cause behind heart attacks not pills. Replacing butter with margarine and full fat milk with low fat have proved to do damage too. It says a lot about our marketing laws.
    roy
    12th Feb 2016
    6:17pm
    But she's still alive because she took aspirin
    Hillbillypete
    12th Feb 2016
    12:14pm
    I can not take it, almost killed me!
    roy
    12th Feb 2016
    6:17pm
    How?
    Hillbillypete
    13th Feb 2016
    9:01am
    mick, the whole body swelled up and went into blisters then my skin started to peal off!that was after taking 2 Aspirin.
    Blossom
    13th Feb 2016
    7:53pm
    Hillbillypete, you have obviously highly allergic to it.
    It is sold in different brand names and some others contain it too
    Scrivener
    12th Feb 2016
    1:44pm
    Aspirin and drugs such as Clopidigrel work in different way to confer almost identical medical outcomes. Different conditions at different stages of onset require different drug regime responses. Even Doctors are equivocal about which drug to offer a patient as the trajectory of a disease changes. Having said that, it is important to get the dosage of Aspirin right. Any more than 100mg per day is putting yourself at risk. But a 100mg dose is generally considered safe. However, it would be foolish to take any drug without doing your own detailed research and preferably with a doctor following your progress over time.
    Generally the research does support the claims in this article, though.
    Lecheman
    12th Feb 2016
    2:50pm
    I take aspirin on a regular basis and have been doing now for a number of years. But, I also have chronic migraines (24hrs headaches); so the aspirin in conjunction with the codeine keep the pain at a manageable tolerance.
    Now I used to take 500mg aspirin daily (longest run was 5-6yrs) but that always freaked out the hospital staff when I had to be rushed to hospital; so in the last few years, I toggle the amount.
    There are no quick resolutions for headaches; everyone is different. I've had mine since I was 9yrs old so I'm a veteran in the field (lol). In my situation, aspirin thins the blood which assists the codeine.
    As for what is mentioned in this article, for the most part, it is true. And yes, the medical fraternity is continually finding new research, which in some cases, changes by the hour etc. I can only speak from personal experience.
    musicveg
    15th Feb 2016
    12:41am
    Have you ever considered checking out any possible allergies, for example to wheat, I have read so much about how migranes can be triggered by an allergy to something, could be wheat, dairy, eggs, or an number of other things. Even a chemical that is in your personal products or cleaning products.
    Lecheman
    15th Feb 2016
    1:23am
    Aah 'musicveg' if I could have a dollar for every suggestion for my migraines. First, thanks for your thoughts and Yes I have tread down the allergies path. My arms looked like they had been attacked by mozzies by the time they had finished pricking me with their needles all dosed in whatever chemical etc..
    I was diagnosed by a neurologist with the term chronic migraines, emphasis on the word 'chronic'. Chronic in this instance applied to 'we do not know why this is happening (completely), but we can verify their existence in you'.
    My migraines fall into two base categories: muscular or blood vessel; which equates to why the codeine will remove the sharpness and other times the aspirin will reduce the inflammation element - and sometimes if I am on a roll, I have to take both. But, the aspirin also assists the codeine because it does thin the blood.
    This is just a brief overview, keeping in mind, I have had them since I was 9yrs old with a myriad of treatments.
    eggles01
    12th Feb 2016
    3:39pm
    back in 2007 i had was in intensive care with 2 of my 3 heart attacks withing in 4 months,my medications were changed after the first i was given 100mg asprin p/d,75mg clopidogrel p/d,high blood pressure more that likely saved my life,i was being treated by a doctor for 7 yrs who was telling me "i was doing pretty good for a bloke and size"i had an average of 175/95 for those years now you could imagine how i felt when the second morning with my first attack and after the change of medication i asked the nurse what my pressure was and she replied "it was 120/60" i was a bit worried so asked if i now had low pressure and her reply was "it is now as close to perfect as possible for me",the 3 branches of the aorta that feeds the heart were totally blocked and the aorta at some stage actually burst,i was extremely lucky the section that burst was lying across my heart as it also blew a hole into the heart and both the heart and aorta came together immediately and sealed on both holes, i am still getting full blood supply to my heart it is just not going to the right sections, my secondary artery is 80% blocked and now have a stent in it and the minor is 70% and it is too small to have anything done to it,i was offered a quadruple bypass but with the odds on such an operation against me i decided not to have it and just take my chances into the future,my cholesterol is now down to 3.8 from 9.5 thanks to crestor (anti-cholesterol) for the past 7yrs,i am now 73yrs and still going strong,(i hope)
    eggles01
    12th Feb 2016
    4:10pm
    g'day jackie,i use "rice bran oil" also Canola Spread margarine just check the list of ingrediants
    to see if it contains palm ""kernal" oil if it does it contains the bad cholesetral
    with aspirin it is the same as everything on earth,some people it helps,some people it does not help,100mgs per day taken with food should be ok but of course if the ulcers are already there that is a different story,if you are drinking a fair amount of milk every day full fat milk can be a danger to your health so for a cuppa and cereal should be no problem, i keep the low fat variety in the fridge during summer as there is no more a refreshing drink than a glass of very cold low/no fat milk.
    musicveg
    15th Feb 2016
    12:54am
    Research shows that no oil or margarine's are good for you,especially vegetable oils which mostly go rancid after making, only use coconut oil for cooking.

    12th Feb 2016
    4:24pm
    I have been taking 100mg every day for more than 50 years, each time with lots of water to make sure it is "washed down". Why? - because some told me they are good for one's health over 50 years ago. My doctor tells me there is NO medical evidence that aspirin is healthy OR unhealthy, BUT I have almost textbook perfect blood pressure (I eat a lot of salt), have ideally balanced good cholesterol to bad cholesterol and good trigylcerates (I eat loads of butter, cheese, ice cream, chocolate, and other "bad" stuff), I have never had any heart problems nor blood clotting troubles, and I am 70 y.o. I'm not saying my "good luck" is primarily due to aspirin, as I believe we are all different as individuals when it comes to diet, medication, exercise, etc - the "courses for horses" thing. I think the biggest factor determining one's health/longevity (this, of course, excludes ridiculous excesses in all forms) are their genes. What I do find interesting is the practice of medicos giving an aspirin to someone just after they have undergone a suspected cardiac trauma. As the saying goes, "it can't be ALL that bad".
    (My apologies for using a few capitals throughout the above comment to those who find them offensive. They are meant for emphasis, not yelling, shouting, or screaming, and I don't think anyone reading this is a "halfwit". Enjoy the rest of your day and have a good weekend.)
    Scrivener
    13th Feb 2016
    6:38pm
    Just a note here, Fast Eddie. There is significant evidence to support the use of small regular doses of Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). Your doctor should be appraised of the evidence and keep up to date with it. He/she needs to check their latest journal articles.
    Prospero
    12th Feb 2016
    6:40pm
    Very important to take aspirin with a meal.
    I understand that 75mg is a perfectly adequate dose which does the same job as 100mg with less likelihood if side effects.
    It's a shame we can't get 75 mg tablets in Australia - they are over the counter in the UK!
    MarciaO
    12th Feb 2016
    8:09pm
    Many young (and not so young) folk who cannot afford hard drugs, pop into a supermarket - pick up a large packet of Panadol, Aspro, Advil etc. (they're always on special) along with a bottle of coke, put it all together and get "high" - goes on all the time - makes the manufacturers a "fortune" and you will always see them on "special". The sad thing is no one is doing anything about it. The drug companies don't want it behind the Chemist's counters, they're making a nice little profit from the supermarkets. Next time, you're in the supermarket, just check to see the "specials"...
    Lecheman
    12th Feb 2016
    8:55pm
    With all due respect MarciaO, how does taking coke with panadol or the others provide this 'high'?
    My partner regularly takes the two together with no discernible results other than a lessening of the headache. I do know of a few urban myths associated with coke and panadol, and these have been kicking around for years - but myths nonetheless.
    Anonymous
    12th Feb 2016
    9:05pm
    MarciaO, this little combination was debunked years ago. About 60 years ago this combo was thought to have the same effect as Spanish Fly, but alas, this was not true, either. As Leechman said, just another myth.
    Scrivener
    12th Feb 2016
    10:58pm
    Just a heads up here - Aspirin is not equivalent to Panadol etc. It is acetylsalicylic acid. Don't think that by taking Panadol you are getting any of the benefisial effects of Aspirin.

    Salicylic acid (from Latin salix, willow tree, from the bark of which the substance used to be obtained) is a monohydroxybenzoic acid, a type of phenolic acid and a beta hydroxy acid. It has the formula C7H6O3. This colorless crystalline organic acid is widely used in organic synthesis and functions as a plant hormone. It is derived from the metabolism of salicin. In addition to being an important active metabolite of aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), which acts in part as a prodrug to salicylic acid, it is probably best known for its use as a key ingredient in topical anti-acne products. The salts and esters of salicylic acid are known as salicylates.
    Scrivener
    12th Feb 2016
    11:00pm
    Salicylic acid is also used in an emollient to rub into keratoses - usually about an 8% to 10% 'ointment'.
    Anonymous
    13th Feb 2016
    1:17am
    Scrivener, is this word for word from your medical dictionary or from wikipedia?
    Scrivener
    13th Feb 2016
    2:26am
    Good observation Fast Eddie, it is from Wikipedia. But I do have a rather large medical dictionary -several, in fact. Didn't realise you required source citations. Still, a site that offers not much more than opinion might well be freshened up with some grounded source material. I'll definitely look for verification in future. Thanks for keeping me on my toes. Appreciated.
    eggles01
    12th Feb 2016
    10:50pm
    another tid bit,i have diabetes 2 and when i went to the internet researching bot diabetes and aspirin,i found that aspirin did not suit the diabetes medication i was on and was told by my doctor that taking too much aspirin could harm me but sticking to the 100mg per day was quite safe and if anything was happening it would show up in my 3 monthly blood test and it could also give a reverse reaction to my diabetic medication, not all diabetic medicines ,also he explained to me that too much aspirin can result in death, so the moral of the story is,if you want to take aspirin go see your doctor first
    Blossom
    13th Feb 2016
    7:51pm
    It would have to be safer than Walfrin. It can be quite toxic.
    Aspirin should always be taken while eating food because It reduces risk damage to stomach etc.
    Young Simmo
    14th Feb 2016
    11:14pm
    I really don't know what all the fuss is about. I was put on Aspirin after my Triple Bypass back in Feb 2002 at age 62. I was never a bleeder in all my life. Since taking Aspirin I only need a pin prick and my blood gushes out. Looks dramatic, and gets me heaps of attention but, otherwise a non-event. Anybody else share my sentiments?
    Lecheman
    15th Feb 2016
    12:16am
    When I first started taking aspirin, yep any little prick and out came the blood. Nowadays, the medical staff appear surprised when my blood just stares back at them (refusing to gush) ...lolz
    Young Simmo
    15th Feb 2016
    1:00am
    OK, how to make a Million Dollars quicker than Lotto.
    Answer:::: Tell us all how to make Aspirin do the same job as Viagra, and not change price from Aspirin.
    Umph, Umph, Umph.
    .
    .
    .
    Sorry, it is Sunday night.
    Lecheman
    15th Feb 2016
    1:30am
    This may be a case of 'too much information - but I did try out Viagra! Alas, while it did do its job as expected, the final outcome for me evolved in a nasty of grand-scale nasty headaches.... lolz
    The only other drug that has that sort of effect on me is Valium - now wondering if the ingredients in Viagra and Valium are somehow maybe in the same medical family.
    If this was too much info, my apologies. I relate to it as in the more amusing anecdotes.
    Young Simmo
    15th Feb 2016
    1:47am
    Lecheman, I used them also with 100% success, but decided after my Bypass I shouldn't push my luck. Now I am cruising along much older than I deserve, and get my KICKS from my Pooter.
    Cheers,,,,,,,Mate.
    Young Simmo
    15th Feb 2016
    1:41am
    OK, I will go down another track, and let me say I am serious and feel very Sympathetic for Migraine sufferers. I am now 76 years and haven't had a Migraine Headache since I was probably about 14 or 15.
    I used to suffer from maybe 10 to 15 years of age and then they stopped. I don't know if Puberty had anything to do with it, maybe somebody can offer a suggestion, but my life has been free from that monster and I am great full. Are there any other Blokes that have had the same enjoyable trip?. The thing that gets me is, they can do Heart, Lung and Kidney transplants, and people still have to suffer with Headaches, sorry but it doesn't add up.
    particolor
    15th Feb 2016
    9:02pm
    I would know what a headache is ? :-) Unless its Rotten Neighbours then I know what it is !! :-(
    Lecheman
    16th Feb 2016
    2:57am
    In that case 'particolor' you are a very fortunate person!
    Mercury3640
    17th Feb 2016
    11:46pm
    The Aspirin to take for blood thinning is not the same as the Aspirin that you take for pain relief. For blood thinning you need an enteric coated tablet which will lengthen the absorbtion time. Typically 112 tablets for $2. These tablets are useless for pain relief.


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