More proof of aspirin's benefits
Published: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 12, 2013 at 5:08 p.m.
Q: I keep hearing that aspirin protects you from a lot of serious health problems and that it can tear up your guts. Is it safe, and should I take it?
— Nancy H., Chicago
A: All the info about aspirin that's swirling around is enough to give you a headache! But we've been advocates of preventive aspirin therapy for a long time, and there is ever more evidence that done right (and with your doctor's OK) it can be mild on your gut and a very smart choice.
Some basic facts
1. Aspirin may irritate the gastrointestinal tract, especially in high doses over a long period of time.
Solution: If you're already prescribed a daily dose of aspirin, follow your doc's advice! Otherwise, take two low-dose aspirins (81 mg): We do one in the morning and one in the evening, but you can take both at once if that's easier for you. And always drink half a glass of warm water before and after you take the pill(s). Two, instead of one, low-dose aspirins doesn't appreciably raise your risk of complication, and it more than doubles the heart benefits and anti-cancer protection.
2. Aspirin is an anticoagulant (that's part of its benefit in preventing stroke).
Solution: Find out from your doc how it interacts with medications, supplements and herbs you're taking and if you're at risk for bleeding-related problems.
3. A small percentage of folks seem aspirin-resistant. The more likely reason they don't benefit from aspirin therapy? They take just one coated aspirin.
Solution: Never coated and always with those glasses of warm water!
What else can aspirin do? Two large meta-studies concluded that low-dose aspirin reduces the incidence of colon, esophageal, prostate, ovarian and breast cancers by almost 40 percent, and for some folks with a particular genetic mutation, it slashes the risk of colon cancer by 82 percent (it starts protecting in 90 days). If taken for five years, it cuts the risk of melanoma 30 percent in Caucasian women. Low-dose aspirin also cuts the risk of all those cancers spreading by 35 percent to 40 percent.
Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at email@example.com.