Re­search takes fizz from daily as­pirin use

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - News - BRIGID O’CON­NELL

AN as­pirin a day does not keep the doc­tor away.

That is the find­ing of an Aus­tralian­led in­ter­na­tional trial — the na­tion’s big­gest clin­i­cal trial — which fol­lowed 19,000 healthy older adults for five years to see if as­pirin could keep them health­ier for longer.

The find­ings are a warn­ing against us­ing med­i­ca­tions in healthy adults.

The As­pirin In Re­duc­ing Events In The El­derly (ASPREE) study found the tablet did not pro­long life, ward off dis­abil­ity or pre­vent an ini­tial heart at­tack or stroke in peo­ple older than 70.

It did, how­ever, in­crease the risk of ma­jor bleed­ing and un­ex­pect­edly in­creased can­cer risk. Lead re­searcher Pro­fes­sor John McNeil said the po­ten­tial ben­e­fits of as­pirin had been ex­trap­o­lated from stud­ies show­ing the blood-thin­ner could help pre­vent heart at­tack and stroke in those with a his­tory of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

“We don’t want to scare peo­ple. Many peo­ple take as­pirin for good rea­son,” the Monash Univer­sity Epi­demi­ol­ogy and Pre­ven­tive Medicine de­part­ment head said.

“Mil­lions of peo­ple around the world take as­pirin but the bot­tom line of this study is if there is no need for you to take it, and your doc­tor hasn’t ad­vised you to, there is no ben­e­fit at all.”

Three pa­pers from the study are pub­lished to­day in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine.

Rates of heart at­tack, stroke, fa­tal heart dis­ease and heart fail­ure were sim­i­lar across the as­pirin and placebo groups but se­ri­ous bleed­ing among those on as­pirin was higher.

Can­cer-re­lated deaths af­fected 3.1 per cent of the as­pirin group and 2.3 per cent of placebo. “We’re puz­zling over this a lit­tle bit be­cause it’s never been found be­fore,” Prof McNeil said.

“In the past there has been good ev­i­dence to sug­gest that if you take as­pirin for more than about five years it will help pre­vent can­cer. This is one of the rea­sons why it’s im­por­tant to keep fol­low­ing up th­ese peo­ple.”

Heart Foun­da­tion chief med­i­cal ad­viser Pro­fes­sor Garry Jen­nings said the find­ings clar­i­fied who should take as­pirin and who should not, thereby “help­ing save lives and pre­vent need­less bleed­ing com­pli­ca­tions”.

Study par­tic­i­pants will con­tinue to be fol­lowed to see if any ben­e­fi­cial ef­fects of as­pirin emerge later in ar­eas such as de­men­tia risk and hear­ing loss as well as search­ing for clues on fac­tors than can in­flu­ence healthy age­ing.

“We don’t un­der­stand why some peo­ple re­main healthy for longer; is it genes or life­style?” Prof McNeil said. “ASPREE is prob­a­bly one of the best placed stud­ies in the world to investigate this.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.