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AbledRx Post Banner shows some boxes of Bayer Aspirin with the headline: New Study Links Long-Term Aspirin Use With Dramatic Cut In Cancer Cases.

Aspirin was the brand name given to acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) and its evolution stretches back to ancient times when medicines were made from willow bark and other plants. Hippocrates wrote around 400 BCE of salicylic tea being used to reduce fevers.

By the nineteenth century pharmacists and chemists were experimenting with various chemicals related to it and a form of it developed by Bayer was named Aspirin. Its popularity grew over the first half of the twentieth century.

Read more about its history and its pharmacological profile at Wikipedia.

Aspirin relieves headaches because of its effect on a chemical called cyclooxygenase. Cyclooxygenase is an enzyme the body uses to produce a chemical called prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is activated when the body is hurt. It tells the brain there is an injury somewhere, and the brain in turn activates the sensory response we know as pain.

So, if you have an infection and your body temperature rises, causing a fever, prostaglandin tells your brain there’s a problem, and your brain triggers a headache.

When you feel a headache and take an aspirin, the result is that cyclooxygenase production is inhibited, leading to a decrease in prostaglandin production and therefore a decrease in pain response.

People have used aspirin for things like headaches for more than a hundred years. In the 1980s, a group of 22,000 men, all doctors, did a little experiment. Half the subjects took an aspirin every other day, and half took a placebo. At the end of the study, twice as many members of the group taking the placebo had experienced heart attackscompared with the aspirin group [source: YHF].

People who take the recommended dose of between 80 mg and 325 mg a day have a better chance of avoiding heart attacks and, if they do have one, of surviving it [source: MedicineNet]. Why is aspirin so good for people with heart disease?

It’s because it blocks cyclooxygenase and, in turn, certain prostaglandins. As it turns out, prostaglandins don’t just trigger the feeling of pain. Some of them also help blood platelets clump together to form clots. Aspirin is an antiplatelet agent. It inhibits that prostaglandin that makes platelets stick together. If clots can’t form in arteries, the chances of a heart attack decrease dramatically.

Source: How Stuff WorksRead More

Some people are allergic to aspirin, and they should always avoid it. Also, since aspirin inhibits blood clotting, people with bleeding disorders and things like ulcers can’t use it, because it can lead to uncontrolled internal bleeding. It can interfere with certain medications and it can cause stomachaches and other gastrointestinal problems. In high doses, it can even cause a ringing in your ears.

Because it does have these side effects, doctors usually don’t recommend an aspirin regimen for healthy people who do not have disease. For people at low risk, the benefits just don’t outweigh the dangers.

Source: How Stuff Works

AbledRx: Photo shows acollection of vintage boxed bottles and tubes of Bayer Aspirin. The caption reads: The evolution of Aspirin from a simple analgesic to a modern day wonder drug.

Daily Aspirin Significantly Reduces Cancer Risk

A new study from Queen Mary University in London concludes that taking 75 to 80mg of aspirin a day significantly lowers the risk of cancer.

The University says in a news release that to reap the benefits of aspirin, the evidence shows people need to start taking a daily dose of 75-100 mg for at least five years and probably 10 years between the ages of 50 and 65. No benefit was seen while taking aspirin for the first three years, and death rates were only reduced after five years.

If taken for 10 years, bowel cancer cases decreased by 35 percent and deaths from the disease by 40 percent, according to the research. The risk of esophageal and stomach cancers are reduced by 30 percent.

Dr. David Agus told “CBS This Morning” that the pill is most effective if taken long-term.

“At year five, the benefits dramatically outweigh the risk, and it continues on where the benefits grow and grow,” Agus said. “So if you take aspirin for 20 years, there’s a dramatic reduction in the overall death rate of people compared to the people who didn’t take aspirin.”

Agus says aspirin is effective against cancer because it is an anti-inflammatory.

“We think the daily dose is something that lowers or tempers the inflammation, reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease over time,” he said.

For 60-year-olds, a daily aspirin regimen for 10 years increases the risk of stomach bleeding from 2.2 percent to 3.6 percent. Agus advises patients get the okay from their doctor before adding the pill to your daily routine.

“Doctors really need to talk to their patients,” Agus said. “It’s not for everybody. If you have upset stomach or bleeding, it’s probably not for you.”

Overall, rates of serious or fatal gastrointestinal bleeding are very low under the age of 70, but increased sharply after that age. Another side effect of aspirin use is peptic ulcer, the risk of which is increased by 30-60%.

The study also uncovers uncertainty over the most appropriate dose of aspirin required to maximize the benefit / harm ratio, with doses varying between 75 mg to 325mg a day in different clinical trials and studies. It is also not clear whether taking aspirin for longer than 10 years will result in greater benefits.

Professor Jack Cuzick, Queen Mary University of London, comments: “It has long been known that aspirin – one of the cheapest and most common drugs on the market – can protect against certain types of cancer. But until our study, where we analysed all the available evidence, it was unclear whether the pros of taking aspirin outweighed the cons.

“Whilst there are some serious side effects that can’t be ignored, taking aspirin daily looks to be the most important thing we can do to reduce cancer after stopping smoking and reducing obesity, and will probably be much easier to implement.”

“Our study shows that if everyone aged between 50-65 started taking aspirin daily for at least 10 years, there would be a 9% reduction in the number of cancers, strokes and heart attacks overall in men and around 7% in women. The total number of deaths from any cause would also be lower, by about 4% over a 20-year period. The benefits of aspirin use would be most visible in the reduction in deaths due to cancer.

“The risk of bleeding depends on a number of known factors which people need to be aware of before starting regular aspirin and it would be advisable to consult with a doctor before embarking on daily medication.”

Prof Cuzick said the recommended dose was 75mg per day and that the risk of internal bleeding associated with aspirin could be cut by around one third by testing and treating anyone found to be carrying the infection, H.pylori in their stomachs.

Agus says that while the preventative benefits are the same for men and women aged 50-65, women should start taking aspirin later in life than men.

“Women get heart disease a little later and cancer a little later,” he said. “So while it’s beneficial in both, the recommendations are starting it a little later in women than in men.”

Sources: Queen Mary University London | CBS News

Abled Rx: Graphic banner reads: Aspirin Study Results. Benefits of Daily 75 to 80 milligrams of Aspirin after 10 years: A 35 percent drop in bowel cancer cases; a 40 percent drop in death from the disease; a 30 percent drop in esophageal and stomach cancer. 10 year side-effects: For 60 year olds, rish of stomach bleeding rises from 2.2 percent to 3.6 percent.

Vintage Aspirin Advertising & Packaging

Photo shows a vintage bottle of Bayer Aspirin from 1889. It contains a bit of white powder and has a beige label around the outside middle of the bottle with artwork of the era.
A yellowed clipping of a vintage ad for Aspirin in a French newspaper in Paris with text in french and a line drawing of a nurse dropping aspirin into a glass.
Vintage Aspirin ad from a 1917 edition of the New York Times shows had drawn illustrations of two boxes of Bayer Aspirin and one metal pcoket pack,. The largest box shows about half of one bottle protruding above the opened box flaps. The text reads: One Real Aspirin. Counterfeits and substitutes may be ineffective, and even harmful. Refuse them. Protect yourself by demanding (and then in large bold text) Bayer-Tablets of Aspirin. Smaller text then says Every tablet and every package of genuine Aspirin bears the Bayer Cross -Your Guarantee of Purity flanking an illustration of an Aspirin tablet with the word Bayer imprinted vertically and horizontally. Pocket boxes of 12, Bottles of 24 and Bottles of 100, followed by small print with trademark information.
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