New study pushes aspirin for all
Let's get real here: No matter what you've heard, there's no sane reason to take an aspirin every day -- and the latest headlines don't change that.
Researchers are giddy over a new study that shows aspirin might reduce cancer deaths. They've even pronounced it a "miracle drug" and "the most amazing drug in the world," which ties in quite nicely with Bayer's "wonder drug" ad campaign.
Miracles and wonders? Get real. That's not medicine -- that's sideshow hucksterism if I've ever heard it.
And the "most amazing" part of this isn't that aspirin can lower cancer risk -- it's that all this excitement is over an analysis of studies that weren't even designed to measure cancer risk.
But let's play along here for a moment: In an analysis of eight trials designed to measure the effects of aspirin on cardiovascular risk (see?), researchers found that patients who popped the pills every day had a 21 percent lower risk of cancer.
And the longer they swallowed those pills, the lower the risk. Five years of aspirin therapy appeared to lower the risk of cancer death by a third. It even seemed to lower the risk of cancers of the digestive tract by 54 percent, according to the study in The Lancet.
More aspirin insanity
The docs aren't sure WHY aspirin seems to protect against cancer -- but, oh heck, let's throw out words like "miracle" and "amazing" and urge people to take it every single day anyway.
Why get hung up in the details, or worry about the side effects -- from severe bleeding to hemorrhagic stroke -- that send thousands of aspirin users to the hospital each year?
When pressed, the researchers say they THINK aspirin's powers might come from its anti-inflammatory properties... but they're not too interested in exploring that one further, and here's why: You can reduce the inflammation that causes disease, right now, without drugs.
My Great Grandma Bell -- Dr. Lucy Bell to the rest of the world -- was on to the secret generations ago when she recommended four spoons of cod liver oil a day.
Now, it's more commonly sold as fish oil capsules, which I guess sounds a little more pleasant than cod liver oil. They're also a lot easier to swallow than Great Grandma Bell's dreaded spoons-o-fish -- and modern research confirms that these essential fatty acids are among the most powerful anti-inflammatories in nature.
And, yes -- miracles and wonders! -- studies have linked fish oil to lower cancer risk.
About the author
William Campbell Douglass I.I., M.D. has been called "the conscience of modern medicine."
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