Regular aspirin dosage does not prolong life in the elderly, according to nationwide study
While doing research for an article on muscle building supplements, I came across an interesting study that I thought I should share with you.
A study conducted by ASPREE concluded that there is no long-term benefit for daily aspirin consumption, unless it is taken for an already-existing health condition. ASPREE is a medical research center that dedicates itself to studying the effects of aspirin. Their findings were published by the U.S. National Institute of Aging and The New England Journal of Medicine.
This particular study concluded in September 2018. It studied the long-term effects of the drug on over 19 000 people over the age of 65 across Australia and the United States. Participants had to be in good health without any pre-existing heart conditions. The study started in 2010 and the average length of observation per individual was 4.7 years.
The results shocked the world: Daily, low-dose aspirin consumption did not prolong healthy life and did not reduce the risk of dementia or physical disability. They admit that the effects of aspirin on cancer and heart disease will require further study with additional follow-ups.
NIA Director, Richard J. Hodes, M.D. explains, “Clinical guidelines note the benefits of aspirin for preventing heart attacks and strokes in persons with vascular conditions such as coronary artery disease. The concern has been uncertainty about whether aspirin is beneficial for otherwise healthy older people without those conditions. This study shows why it is so important to conduct this type of research, so that we can gain a fuller picture of aspirin’s benefits and risks among healthy older persons.”
Participants were randomly selected to take a low dose of 100 mg of aspirin, while others were given a placebo.
90.3% of the aspirin group remained alive without persistent physical disability or dementia at the end of the study, while 90.5% of the placebo group did.
5.9% of the aspirin group died during the study, while only 5.2% of the placebo group did.
448 People in the aspirin group experienced cardiovascular events, compared to 474 people in the placebo group.
The higher death rate among the aspirin group was primarily due to a higher rate of cancer death. The study notes, though, that this could be due to chance. Further research is being conducted to determine whether aspirin had an effect on the increased cancer prevalence.
Internal bleeding that required hospitalization occurred in 361 people in the aspirin group, while only occurring in 265 people in the placebo group.
Leslie Ford, M.D., associate director for clinical research, NCI Division of Cancer Prevention, said that “The increase in cancer deaths in study participants in the aspirin group was surprising, given prior studies suggesting that aspirin use improved cancer outcomes” and warns that these findings should be interpreted with caution. She adds that additional information is needed before definitive conclusions can be made.
Prof John McNeil from Monash University told BBC, “It means millions of healthy older people around the world who are taking low dose aspirin without a medical reason, may be doing so unnecessarily, because the study showed no overall benefit to offset the risk of bleeding.
A leading expert on aspirin, Prof Peter Rothwell from Oxford University, said that the findings were definitive indeed. He told BBC, “Taking aspirin if you are otherwise healthy, over the age of 70, if you haven’t had a previous heart attack or stroke, is really of very little benefit. And so self-medicating with aspirin in the absence of a definite medical indication isn’t advisable.”
He further advises that these finding should not deter those who take Aspirin because of a heart attack or stroke, and that they should continue to follow their doctor’s advice. Anybody who has been taking aspirin for a long time should not stop overnight – that could also cause problems. They should discuss any concerns that they have with their GP.