Aspirin would not be able to prevent cardiovascular diseases or any other illnesses in elderly patients, a new study has confirmed.
In fact, regularly taking a pill a day, even low-dose, is likely to cause serious harm. A landmark study involving more than 19,000 people in the United States and Australia revealed that there is little to no benefits of taking low-dose aspirin every day to preserve good health.
The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Sept. 16.
An Aspirin A Day
"Despite the fact that aspirin has been around for more than 100 years, we have not known whether healthy older people should take it as a preventive measure to keep them healthy for longer," explained Professor John McNeil, principal investigator. "Aspirin is the most widely used of all preventive drugs and an answer to this question is long overdue."
The study was dubbed ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly or ASPREE. It is said to be the largest and most comprehensive study to look into whether the people who take 100 milligrams of aspirin a day were right to believe that the medicine gives them health benefits.
From 2010 to 2014, volunteers aged 70 and older with no cardiovascular disease, persistent physical disability, or dementia were made to take either aspirin or placebo every day.
After nearly five years, researchers found no significant difference between the group that received aspirin every day and the group that took placebo pills.
Aspirin's Side Effects
Moreover, McNeil and his team of researchers noticed that there is an increased risk of bleeding from the group assigned with aspirin. The rate of major hemorrhage in the group that was assigned to take aspirin religiously throughout the duration of the experiment was higher at 3.8 percent versus 2.8 percent in people who received placebo.
The study also noticed a small increase in cancer-related deaths from the group that was made to take aspirin. McNeil, however, said that the cases would need further investigation before a conclusion can be derived. Previous studies claim that aspirin might prevent or even cure cancer.
The researchers said that aspirin remains to be relatively safe. Still, patients should follow the advice of their doctors before taking a dose of aspirin or any kind of medicine.
The team will continue to monitor the health of the people who were involved in the study to see if some beneficial effects of aspirin would appear over time. They hope to release more findings from the ASPREE trial in the future.