The Risks and Benefits of Aspirin

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Aspirin is an analgesic drug that soothes minor aches and pains. It works by reducing inflammation and bringing the body temperature down in case of a fever. Health experts also use aspirin to prevent heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots. Unfortunately, taking aspirin presents a number of health risks too! And in today’s post, we are listing down the risks and benefits of taking this drug:

Benefits of Aspirin

Curbs Inflammation

Most types of common aches and pains are caused by internal or external inflammation. Aspirin soothes inflammation by inhibiting certain enzymes that convert arachidonic acid to pro-inflammatory hormones. Thus, the drug curbs inflammation.

Protects from Certain Cancers

Yes, there are scientific evidence that aspirin can decrease the risk of cancer, particularly colorectal, breast, and esophagus cancer. The drug affects the enzymes that cause inflammation. Studies show that inflammation is one of the main causes of cell mutation. Cell mutation leads to the overgrowth of malignant cells. In a randomized controlled trial, researchers suggest that the drug may reduce the risk of cancer with advanced metastasis.

It helps that any anti-inflammatory drug reduces the risk of developing noncancerous polyps in the colon. Aspirin is also associated with a modest decrease in mortality from cancer.

May Protect from Cataract

Research shows that taking 325 milligrams of aspirin every other day may delay the development of cataract formation. However, the initial findings require more research before doctors begin recommending the drug for cataract prevention.

May Reduce Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

Multiple studies found a link between non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, researchers conclude that patients who took NSAIDs have lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease.

Prevents Blood Clots

Blood clot occurs when the blood starts solidifying within the veins. This is dangerous because it can lead to all sorts of fatal coronary occlusions like heart attack and stroke. Aspirin works by thinning out the blood and making the blood vessels less likely to clump together. This is the reason why most doctors recommend aspirin as preventive drug for blood clots.

Risks of Aspirin

Increases the Risk of Reye Syndrome

Aspirin is not recommended for children and teens because it increases the risk of Reye’s syndrome. Reye’s syndrome is a potentially fatal disease that affects major organs like the brain and the liver. This condition starts out as a viral infection. But taking aspirin to heal the infection can lead to fatty liver, brain swelling, and kidney disease. In severe cases, Reye’s syndrome can lead to permanent brain damage or death.

As such, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Surgeon General, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that aspirin should not be given to children under 19 years old during episodes of fever-like illnesses.

Minor Discomforts

Aspirin use has been linked to various discomforts ranging from heartburn to nausea. It can also cause vomiting, stomach cramps, and stomach ulcer. In severe cases, aspirin can also lead to kidney failure, liver damage in alcoholics, hearing loss and even stroke.

Allergic Reaction

About 2 in 1,000 people are allergic to aspirin. If you are sensitive to this drug, taking it will lead to asthma attacks, hives, and facial swelling.

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