New study debunks aspirin claims

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Doctors last night said the findings "emphatically" showed there was no reason to use aspirin to prevent disease in healthy people and warned it may harm.

However he added the findings didn't apply to people who have previously had a heart attack or stroke or had an existing condition such as angina.

The study involved 19,114 people, mostly over the age of 70.

Over 19,000 people in Australia and the USA were studied over seven years for the study was called ASPREE - Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly.

Many healthyAmericans take a baby aspirin every day to reduce their risk of having a heart attack, getting cancer and even possibly dementia.

"Cancer-related death occurred in 3.1% of the participants in the aspirin group and in 2.3% of those in the placebo group (hazard ratio, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.10 to 1.56)".

They were also at "significantly" increased risk of serious internal bleeding. But the new study, known as ASPREE, looked at the long-standing question of whether a first heart attack, stroke, or case of heart failure could be prevented with small amounts of the blood thinner in aspirin. The line of thinking is "well if it works to prevent a second heart attack or stroke, why wouldn't it prevent the first one?" said Dr. John McNeil, co-principal investigator of the trial and professor in the department of epidemiology and preventive medicine at Monash University in Australia.

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Taking a low-dose aspirin daily has no benefit in warding off dementia, disability or cardiovascular disease in healthy, older adults, and may instead increase their risk of serious and potentially life-threatening bleeding, according to a study published on Sunday.

Over 19,000 participants took part in the study, which was jointly conducted by Monash University and the US Berman Centre for Outcomes and Clinical Research. Patients who were black or Hispanic and living in the USA were included in the study as they face a higher risk of heart disease or dementia generally. Caution was advised for this particular finding since the follow-up period (five years) may have limited the ability to observe benefits such as the reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

"The rate of major hemorrhage was 8.6 events per 1000 person-years and 6.2 events per 1000 person-years, respectively (hazard ratio, 1.38; 95% CI, 1.18 to 1.62; P 0.001)".

"A lot of people read, 'Well, aspirin is good for people who have heart problems". "Particularly bleeding, which is more common in older people". Since the 1960s it has been known that aspirin lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke among those who have had heart disease or stroke before. They noted that aspirin does not protect individuals from dementia. After a median length of 4.7 years, the team found, people who took aspirin were just as likely to die than those who took a placebo.

The premiere study was an indiscriminate duplicate blind, placebo regulated trial, contemplated the gold caliber for clinical trials.

Professor McNeil said aspirin remains a relatively safe medication but more research was needed to investigate the longer-term benefits and risks of its daily use.

'These initial findings will help to clarify the role of aspirin in disease prevention for older adults, but much more needs to be learned.

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