Don't buy the myth – aspirin therapy benefits don't outweigh the risks

Don’t grab that lifesaver

I have a friend named Steve who’s approaching his 50th birthday. He’s a longtime HSI member, so he knows about the dangers of “aspirin therapy.”

Like me, he’s convinced that the good it may do is slight, at best. So the additional risk of gastrointestinal bleeding is simply not worth it.

Meanwhile, Steve’s adult daughter thinks he’s just being stubborn.

She sees the feel-good advertisements. She sees all the television doctors breezily recommending aspirin therapy for everyone middle-aged and over. She’s constantly pestering her dad to take a baby aspirin.

So Steve, this one is for you. Share it with your daughter.

And this one is also for anyone who suspects it’s time to end the nonsense that a daily aspirin is a lifesaver.

The threat is real

They call it “baby aspirin.” What could possibly sound less threatening? It’s just 81 little milligrams.

And yet, along with a daily aspirin, some doctors prescribe an antacid drug to protect the stomach. That’s a pretty solid indication that the threat is real.

To explore that threat, UK researchers examined nine studies. Each study compared regular aspirin use to placebo. Combined, the studies included more than 100,000 subjects who had never had a heart attack or a stroke.

The first part of the results will warm the hearts of medical mainstreamers…

Subjects who regularly used aspirin reduced their risk of any type of cardio event by 10%. Aspirin use reduced risk of non-fatal heart attack by 20%.

But the additional results will give mainstreamers a chill…

Regular aspirin use boosted the risk of serious gastrointestinal bleeding 30%.

“More harmful than it is beneficial.” That’s how the lead researcher summed up the results for the New York Times. And he added… “Quite convincingly.”

But the Times notes that the findings will likely add to the confusion about who should take a regular aspirin and who should not.

ADD to the confusion? No! The findings help SETTLE the confusion. They move us closer to banishing the idea of aspirin as cardio therapy.

If there’s any confusion, it’s this… How do you safely stop aspirin therapy?

A few years ago, I told you about a study that reviewed hundreds of cases of coronary episodes. Researchers found that the sudden halt of aspirin therapy appears to prompt severe angina and fatal heart attacks in some patients.

Those with a history of heart disease were at particularly high risk. And they’re the very patients who are most likely to begin aspirin therapy in the first place.

If you’re taking daily low-dose aspirin, talk to your doctor about these studies before you wean yourself off this “wonder drug.”

And if you’ve never used aspirin therapy, save this e-mail. Show it to anyone who ever tries to convince you that a little baby aspirin is just what you need.

“Effect of Aspirin on Vascular and Nonvascular Outcomes” Archives of Internal Medicine, Published online ahead of print, 1/9/12,

“Daily Aspirin Is Not for Everyone, Study Suggests” Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times, 1/16/12,

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