Aspirin: Should we or shouldn't we?
- Created on Monday, 25 October 2010 18:08
A new study out of the UK found that patients taking low-dose aspirin for heart disease had a 25% lower risk of colon cancer, and there was a 30% lower risk of death from colon cancer.
Colon cancer is the most commonly occurring form of cancer, except for lung cancer, which is highly correlated with smoking tobacco. So, if you are a longterm non-smoker, colon cancer is probably the most likely cancer that you are going to get.
So, should we all get onboard the Aspirin Express? I am impressed with these results, but I am still wary. And that's because I know of too many catastrophes from taking aspirin. People have died from taking aspirin, either deliberately by taking aspirin to commit suicide (and, it is a very painful death) or dying accidentally by taking excessive amounts of aspirin in seeking pain relief.
Aspirin is a blood thinner. In a powerful way, it deactivates your blood platelets. And, you don't have to take a lot of aspirin to deactivate all of your blood platelets. And those platelets weren't put there to cause heart attacks. They were put there to deal with the traumatic hemorrhages and also the subtle little hemorrhages that are a part of daily life. I have said many times that you need your stomach acid, and you have no business trying to deactivate it. Likewise, you need your blood platelets, and you have no business trying to deactivate them.
However, I admit that when a person is on the verge of a heart attack, aspirin may make the difference between life and death. So, if a cardiologist recommends aspirin to a heart patient, I do not object.
But, that doesn't mean that I am ready to start taking aspirin myself. I like to think that I am not on the verge of a heart attack.
Aspirin is definitely an irritant. They say that every time you swallow an aspirin, you make a hole in your stomach- wherever the aspirin lands. So, some have suggested that instead of swallowing aspirin, we should let it dissolve in our mouths while moving it around so that it doesn't rest in the same place for very long. Of course, there is also buffered aspirin, but I don't know how effective it is.
In a way, we all take aspirin every day because aspirin is a form of salicylic acid, and there are natural salicylates in fresh produce- fruits and vegetables. The difference is that it's very dilute, and it's mixed with other things, so you never get a concentrated (and therefore irritating) dose, as when you swallow an aspirin tablet. So, eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is definitely a good idea- for this reason and for many other reasons.
So personally, I am not ready to start taking aspirin. But, I never say never. Perhaps at a future point in my life, I will decide to take it, depending on what's going on. But for now, I am content to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables to get those natural salicylates in a very safe form. And, I also take the herb, turmeric. Turmeric has blood-thinning effects like aspirin. Not as much- but enough. Turmeric also has a non-proliferative effect like aspirin. I am referring to the effect aspirin has of causing the cells that line the colon to shed regularly and rapidly. This helps to lower the risk of cancer. With turmeric, you get that effect without the irritating effects of aspirin. I have never heard of anyone hemorrhaging from taking turmeric. And like aspirin, turmeric has cardio-protective effects.
I'll point out that other substances in my regimen also have blood-thinning effects, including fish oil and Vitamin E. So, when you add the turmeric and the high fruit and vegetable diet, I dare say that you are getting all the bloodthinning you could possibly need- assuming that you are reasonably healthy to begin with.
So, that's why you see turmeric listed on the Daily Program page of this website, which is a list of the supplements I take. And now I hope you understand why aspirin is not on that list.