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How the world got lost on
the road to an anti-aging pill
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December 19, 2010: by Bill Sardi
A professor of medicine says “aspirin is, by a long way, the most amazing drug in the world.” He was responding to a recent study published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, which found the 20-year risk of death was reduced by about 10 percent for prostate cancer, 30 percent for lung cancer, 40 percent for colorectal or bowel cancer and 60 percent for esophageal cancer among those taking aspirin.
Aspirin protected against gastrointestinal cancer the most, particularly for cancer in the upper versus the lower gastric tract. When data from eight studies were pooled, researchers found that cancer deaths among those who took aspirin in doses as low as 75 milligrams a day were 34 percent lower after five years. There was no increase in benefit at doses of aspirin greater than 75 mg daily.
Furthermore, while there has been hesitancy to use aspirin because of bleeding gastric ulcers offsets its ability to prevent strokes and heart attack, now doctors say “the reductions in deaths due to several common cancers will now alter this balance for many people.”
One doctor suggests healthy people could start taking a small 75 mg dose of aspirin every day from the age of about 40 or 45 and continue doing so until they reached around 70 to 75, when the risk of the aspirin causing stomach bleeding rises.
Is aspirin the long-sought after anti-aging pill? Indeed, a few years ago researchers nominated aspirin as “a means to extending life span.” In fact, the mechanism by which aspirin promotes longevity may be its ability to induce iron loss (bleeding). This is another confirmation of the over-mineralization theory of aging.
Even among centenarians who are at elevated risk for aspirin-induced bleeding gastric ulcers, a typical 250 mg dose of aspirin yielded a survival curve of 2.4 years compared to 1.7 years for non-aspirin users. 11890610
Before the public runs to the medicine cabinet for an aspirin tablet, however, there is more to say about aspirin therapy.
In the 1970s researchers fed various drugs including aspirin and acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to laboratory mice at varying doses, but aspirin did not extend life span.
Patients taking aspirin for prevention of disease, when made aware of the risk of hemorrhage, claim they are “just taking a baby aspirin.” But the accumulated risk for gastric ulcers among baby aspirin users is still around 10%.
Additionally, aspirin-induced gastric ulcers may be under-reported. Many aspirin-induced gastric ulcers are not detected during the passage of an endoscope because doctors advise their patients to cease taking aspirin days before their exam.
Another word of caution still needs to be said about aspirin since it increases the risk for brain hemorrhage even though it prevents clotting strokes. An elevated risk for brain hemorrhage has been reported among Alzheimer’s patients taking aspirin.
Another aspirin hazard exists among the many patients with advanced retinal disease (neovascular macular degeneration). Retinal hemorrhages were nearly doubled among retinal disease patients taking aspirin or other anti-clotting drugs. Nearly 8 in 10 of these patients taking two anti-clotting drugs experienced retinal hemorrhages. Yikes!
Furthermore, researchers tend to compare the risk for gastric bleeding against the benefits of reduce heart attack, but fail to mention other aspirin-induced side effects, such as aspirin-induced asthma, nasal polyps, and sinus inflammation.
Of course, that aspirin statistically reduces the risk for death from a heart attack and cancer is one thing, but will it work reliably to prevent YOUR heart attack? About half of the people succumbing to a sudden mortal heart attack were taking aspirin on the day of their demise. Researchers think this problem is dose related. Baby aspirin (81 mg) is too low a dose, and standard aspirin tablets (325 mg) induce hemorrhages.
Dr. Marie Lordkipanidzé, at the Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences, Institute of Biomedical Research, University of Birmingham (UK), attempts to explain “why an aspirin a day may no longer keeps the doctor away” for everyone who swallows one of these pills on a daily basis.
Dr. Lordkipanidzé writes: “While it is true in most cases that an aspirin a day keeps the doctor away, it would also appear that not all patients benefit from the drug to the same extent as others.” She says this is due to the fact that in up to 25% of patients, platelets recover their ability to aggregate (clump) within 24 hours of the last aspirin dose, thus potentially leaving patients unprotected against clotting events at the end of the dosing interval. Patients who rapidly make new blood platelets may experience less benefit from aspirin therapy. Two-a-day dosing would remedy this problem, but compliance would likely decline.
Another issue with aspirin is that among patients at high-risk for heart troubles, it is often combined with Plavix (clopidogrel) which significantly increases the risk for hemorrhage. High-risk heart patients taking aspirin and Plavix cannot be lumped into the healthy population that takes aspirin for prevention of heart attacks.
For those heart patients who are simply too frightened to back away from aspirin and Plavix, a recent study shows the co-provision of lecithin (phosphatidlycholine) with aspirin and/or Plavix will allay gastric ulcers, cutting the risk by more than half.
Not only has the red wine molecule resveratrol (rez-vair-ah-trawl) been shown to turn mortal heart attacks into non-mortal heart attacks in laboratory animals, it exhibits many of the same anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, anti-clotting qualities of aspirin. In fact, resveratrol was found to inhibit blood clotting among high-risk cardiac patients when aspirin didn’t. In one study, resveratrol was found to exhibit superior anti-inflammatory action to aspirin and ibuprofen.
Clearly, resveratrol has a much longer half-life than aspirin (9 hours compared to 30 minutes) and turns mortal heart attacks into non-mortal heart attacks by release of protective chemicals (adenosine, heme oxygenase) prior to the event. It is sad to realize modern medicine is not rushing to put resveratrol to a greater test as an aspirin replacement. – © 2010 Bill Sardi, ResveratrolNews.com Not for posting on other websites.