Daily aspirin 'does not improve health', study finds

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The researchers did not state whether healthy older people who have been taking aspirin should stop.

So yes, don't pop aspirin if you are healthy.

Many heart-healthy older people take a daily baby aspirin out of a belief that it will help prevent a heart attack or stroke.

But based on the findings, Dr. Evan Hadley of the National Institute on Aging, which helped fund the study, says any elderly people taking aspirin or thinking about it should think twice.

According to the study, aspirin proved ineffective for people who were suffering from high blood pressure or high cholesterol, who were on other drugs to mitigate the risk for heart diseases.

For years, most people who have suffered a heart attack or stroke have been encouraged to take an aspirin a day to keep the doctor away.

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"Cancer was the major contributor to the higher mortality in the aspirin group, accounting for 1.6 excess deaths per 1000 person-years".

Regardless, the findings raise serious questions as to whether otherwise healthy older people should routinely take low-dose aspirin.

"There was a small increase in the number of death overall in the aspirin group, with the largest proportion of deaths due to cancer", said Murray.

Dr Nespolon said while there have been mixed opinions on whether giving healthy people aspirin is a good idea, this new study "clearly shows people over 70 shouldn't be taking aspirin as simply an aid to their health".

One disturbing result puzzled the researchers because it had not occurred in previous studies: a slightly greater death rate among those who took aspirin, mostly because of an increase in cancer deaths - not new cancer cases, but death from the disease.

The study was done on Caucasians, but its findings may not be too different in an Indian population, said McNeil, responding to a query.

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The research was led by Monash University in Australia and the Berman Centre for Outcomes and Clinical Research in the US. They took low-dose aspirin - 100 milligrams - or a placebo every day for a median of 4.7 years.

The study looked at almost 20,000 people in the US and Australia for almost five years. Further research that may identify which groups would benefit from regular aspirin use is underway, McNeil said. It is used for a variety of ailments ranging from one-off pain relief from a headache to the prevention of blood clots in those at risk of heart attack and stroke. Significant hemorrhage occurrences elementarily involved upper gastrointestinal and intracranial bleeding.

But the trial found no benefit for healthy people over the age of 70, and the pills increased the risk of potentially fatal internal bleeding.

Researchers also looked at whether taking aspirin affected the likelihood of developing dementia, but found little difference between those who took aspirin and those who took a placebo.

The premiere study was an indiscriminate duplicate blind, placebo regulated trial, contemplated the gold caliber for clinical trials. Heart disease and stroke accounted for 19 percent of the deaths and major bleeding for 5 percent.

"Aspirin remains a relatively safe medication, but more research was needed to investigate the longer-term benefits and risks of its daily use", he said, adding that researchers were following the health of participants to determine if benefits, including cancer prevention, emerge from taking the drug over a period of time.

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