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Monday 26 August 2013

Aspirin. That nice, harmless painkiller?

I wrote about Aspirin in my e-book, "The Failure of Conventional Medicine", in which I outlined why, after spending so much on health care during the last 60+ years we seem to be getting sicker rather than better. In this piece I wrote the following:

          ".... like all NSAID drugs, aspirin is associated with side-effects such as stomach ulcers, disruption of the blood clotting system, and asthma attacks in susceptible people. And aspirin is far more dangerous than we have been told. A WDDTY report dated 18th October 2007 claims that aspirin kills 20,000 people in the USA every year, whilst another 100,000 end up in hospital as a result of taking the drug".

Since writing this, I have to admit that I seem to have got things very wrong! Aspirin is now known to be much more dangerous than I realised at the time. The dangers of Aspirin go far beyond the Gastro-Intestinal diseases it causes.

Aspirin was first patented as a drug in 1889, so in over 120 years, the conventional medical establishment appears to have been quite unaware of the dangers of Aspirin, or quite unprepared to tell us about them, although at the same time quite prepared to tell us that aspirin was 'safe', and could be taken routinely for any number of health reasons.

In August 2011, the magazine WDDTY (What doctor's don't tell you) reported that although Aspirin is supposed to prevent heart disease (and many millions of patients are taking a daily aspirin to do so, on the advice of their doctors), all NSAID drugs, including aspirin, actually become a killer for patients who already have a heart condition. The article reported on research done at the University of Florida, published in the American Journal of Medicine, which showed that patients taking aspirin regularly increased their risk of dying by 47%.

Research in Australia has linked Aspirin with age-related macular degeneration. Perhaps this is not surprising, given the number of older people who have been encouraged to take aspirin, routinely, over recent decades. But note that the researchers could not quite bring themselves to prove a 'causal' relationship! This probably means two things. First, patients won't be told until a 'causal relationship' has been completely demonstrated. And in the meantime, doctors will continue to give it to us despite the risks!

Note that doctors in the UK have already been told about the doubling of the risk of contracting the condition, but that their advice is to continue prescribing it:

          " ...'any decision to stop aspirin therapy is complex and should be individualised', noting that the risk 'should be balanced with the significant morbidity and mortality of sub-optimally treated cardiovascular disease'. Overall they felt there was insufficient evidence to recommend changing practice, except in patients with strong risk factors for neovascular age-related macular degeneration".

So all is well within the world of the conventional medical establishment! Carry on, they say, despite the risk.

So do our doctors tell us about the risk? Well, at least WDDTY have done so. In their report on research done at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, they say that the risk increases the longer patients take aspirin, and that "those who have taken the drug regularly for 10 years or longer are at the highest risk" emphasising the the drug can cause many kinds of eye problems, up to, and including, blindness.

See also the following articles on Aspirin, Eyesight and Blindness.
Taking aspirin regularly causes severe degenerative eye disorders
Taking aspirin as few times as once a week triples risk of blindness

So what about all the evidence that suggest aspirin does such wonderful things for our health? For example, does it not reduce cancer risk? WDDTY have again suggested that this is another piece of ConMed hype. It reports on an article published in The Lancet that examined the evidence of aspirin's 'cancer-protecting' role, which found that the study was a re-analysis of about 90 previously published studies - which conveniently managed to exclude several major US trials that had failed to find "any protective effect from aspirin".

The situation is actually worse than this, as described in this article which indicates that not only will aspirin not prevent cancer, it will actually cause it. The author reminds us that the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, in 2004, found that daily aspirin intake "is linked to a significantly increased risk of developing cancer". Indeed, the article goes on to remind us of the overall dangers of aspirin, namely:

          "Regular use of aspirin is linked to heart attack, stroke, intestinal bleeding, organ damage, and death".

The conclusion that can be reached is that the ConMed Establishment is willing to discount, or to ignore, the overwhelming evidence that aspirin consumption is dangerous; and that it is able, and willing to use and manipulate 'medical science' in order to highlight any marginal, or indeed bogus benefits that can be found in drugs.

We are dealing with Big Business interests here, not in a health service that puts patient interests first and foremost.

Similar claims have been made for Aspirin in relation to it preventative role in treating Dementia. 'The Healthier Life' have examined these claims, and came to this conclusion:

          "In a new study, research gave memory tests to hundreds of older subject with high risk of heart disease. Five years later, they gave the same tests. Subject who took low-dose aspirin tended to score a bit hight than those who didn't use the therapy. Okay. Slightly better memory. That's good. But even the researchers admit ... "There were no differences in dementia rates in the two groups".

So this is not a ringing endorsement of aspirin as an effective treatment of dementia. But any marginally positive news is used by the ConMed Establishment to hype its drugs. So despite the risks to our hearts, our eyes, and our stomachs, older people are given a drug in the hope that it might, just, have a marginal effect on our brains.

Great marketing. Lousy medicine!

Aspirin is a NSAID painkiller. In the next few days I will be continuing with a series of blog on painkillers that implicates these drugs with far wider damage to human health.