Sunday, November 17, 2013

Millions of Long Term Aspirin Takers At Risk Of Blindness? Say It Ain't So!

An estimated 30-35 million people are on some kind of aspirin regimen in this country, including yours truly - for the past 40 years. You could say I am a long time aspirin taker, even before it become popular and the medical community started to endorse it. I mean, what's not to like in terms of the benefits? Consider:

- Males who take one a day are less likely to develop enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia).

- It can reduce the incidence of stroke in both males and females but significantly more in males

- It can reduce the risk of heart attack in males and females, but slightly greater efficacy in females

- It reduces the risk of dying from colo-rectal cancer by 40%

- It reduces the risk of dying from lung cancer by 30%

- It reduces the risk of dying from esophageal cancer by 58%

- It reduces the risk of dying from the most common form of breast cancer (estrogen receptor positive) by 28%

Scientists who've researched these benefits, found them actually, believe aspirin's cancer fighting power lies in its ability to inhibit the effects of cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX -2) enzymes. These promote a type of cell damage that can lead to cancer.

No surprise then that millions have read of the benefits and are doing aspiring therapy.

However, a recent issue of Bottom Line Health  sent misgivings into my cerebral cortex. The report, based on  study in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, claimed that some unlucky folks have the possibility of becoming "aspirin resistant" - in which case they double their risk of heart attack or stroke.

Aspirin resistance? WTF!? I've heard of antibiotic resistance and now you're gonna tell me there's aspirin resistance too? But evidently there is. A recent study also cited in the Bottom Line report referenced Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where it was found that almost half of patients who suffered a stroke, including TIA (transient ischemic attack) were found to be aspirin resistant.

The Report asserts that if people feel they are aspirin resistant they need to ask their docs to run a test called an optical platelet aggregation.  It's covered by most insurance plans and can help you decide whether to continue your regimen or stop. (But the piece also suggests not doing it 'cold turkey')

But the best is yet to come - under the header: 'Even a baby aspirin can make you blind':

In this section, we are informed that:

"A study published in the prominent medical journal Ophthamology reports that long term aspirin use increases your risk of developing cataracts by a whopping 44 percent"

In addition: Aspirin taken over long term can lead to "small retinal hemorrhages and macular degeneration. This already affect over 10 million Americans and is the leading cause of blindness for folks over 55."

The small retinal hemorrhages are, of course, due to aspirin reducing the blood's ability to clot. Thus, if blood vessels rupture blood can leak out into tissues before the damage can be repaired.

Anyway, the article ends so:

"And now that Americans are taking 80 million aspirin tablets each day you can see why we're on the verge of the biggest vision loss epidemic of all times. And you can believe the aspirin makers don't want this news out."

Yeah, well, it might also be that the studies that found these issues, problems were conducted via support from Big PHrMA companies. After all, a little bottle of aspirin is a lot cheaper than most meds peddled by the PHrMA bunch. (Already complaining because they insist their chemical substitute for MJ  (DRUGS containing cannabinoids) is much "better" - never mind it costs 100x more than grown weed.

As for me, I plan to continue taking daily aspirin. At least perhaps until the study now out is confirmed - and preferably by a university or group with NO PHrMA connections.


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