The largest long-term aspirin study covering 32 years and following 130,183 people (86,206 women and 43,977 men) has shown that regular use of aspirin over a long period of time lowered the risk of death from some types of cancer. These included colorectal, prostate, breast and lung cancers; both duration and dosage of aspirin use were followed from 1980 to 2012.
Earlier studies had shown the benefits of aspirin in preventing heart disease as well as colorectal cancer and possibly reducing the risk of death from cancer; women were shown to have less risk of stroke rather than heart attacks. The long-term follow-up study was among the first to focus on aspirin dosages and duration of use.
Researchers saw a lower risk of death in general and from cancer in people who took between half an aspirin and one-and-a-half aspirin a week; even better results were seen in people who took between two and seven aspirin per week. Interestingly, those taking more than seven aspirin per week did not have such positive results. However, researchers also noted that a long-term aspirin regimen is not a one-size-fits-all solution for all patients, nor does regular aspirin use work for everyone.
So, what is it about aspirin that’s so beneficial in preventing and lowering the risk of death from heart disease and cancer, currently ranked as the top two killers in the United States? Aspirin is both an anticoagulant and an anti-inflammatory; inflammation is a major underlying cause of cancer, heart disease, and many other health issues.
This study proves what functional medicine doctors have been saying for years – that keeping inflammation in the body to a minimum is one of the keys to good health. Chronic inflammation is at the core of a host of illnesses from asthma, arthritis and Crohn’s disease to cancer, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disease.
While the results of this study are useful, it’s equally helpful to know that there is a risk-benefit issue to be considered, a fact recognized by the medical community. Daily aspirin use comes with its own set of risks, including:
- gastro-intestinal bleeding
- hemorrhagic stroke
- allergic reactions
- digestive disorders
- interactions with prescriptions, OTC medications, Omega-3s and herbal supplements
- excessive bleeding during surgery and dental procedures
The good news is that there are safer, more natural ways to keep inflammation down and your blood flowing freely through your veins. A healthy diet is crucial to achieving these goals (whether you’re on prescription medications, or not); this would include a more anti-inflammatory diet that eliminates processed foods, gluten and refined sugars. Eliminate or minimize your intake of foods to which you may have sensitivities or allergies, as these can cause inflammation as well. Natural anticoagulants include ginger, ginkgo, vitamin E, fish oil, garlic and more. However, it is important to note that these are not to be considered replacements for prescription blood thinners for patients who have heart problems or who have had a stroke or heart attack, nor should they be taken in addition to medications without a doctor’s authorization. Only take these natural blood thinners after talking with your doctor about safety, dosages and whether these supplements are safe for you along with your prescription.
It’s never too late to reduce inflammation in your body through diet, but why wait until a problem develops before starting? By lowering your body’s inflammation, you may ward off many serious health issues as well as any seemingly genetically related health problems.
*NOTE: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always talk with your doctor about any planned dietary changes or additions and before eliminating or reducing your medications to avoid serious health complications.