There's nothing Big Pharma likes more than a drug you think you need to take every day.
Believe me when I tell you that it has more to do with the steady flow of dollars from your pocket into theirs than any ability of these drugs to prevent certain conditions.
One of the more recent myths says folks who take a painkiller every day are less likely to come down with dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
A new study puts that line of thinking right where it belongs: in the trash.
Researchers found that regular users of ibuprofen, naproxen and other painkillers were actually more likely to come down with dementia. These patients were also more likely to have diabetes, arthritis and heart failure, according to the study published in the online edition of Neurology.
Now, the study's authors say the drugs themselves were unlikely to be causing these conditions. Instead, the very symptoms that led the patients to become such heavy users of painkillers indicate that they were unhealthy to begin with.
Even so, one thing is pretty clear: Taking painkillers daily won't stop dementia.
Aspirin wasn't included in this study, but it's one of the painkillers that's been given credit for this nonexistent benefit. And it's another drug you don't need every day.
Now, I know just about every TV show includes an advertisement telling you that an aspirin a day can prevent heart attacks. But we need to stop getting our medical advice from commercials.
It's so bad now that even many doctors believe this nonsense.
Remember, these ads are not medical studies or news reports. They're nothing more than the maker of a drug using actors to persuade you to take their drug every day – side effects be damned.
The reality is that study after study has found that folks who gobble up aspirins every day live no longer than those who don't.
In fact, taking any painkiller daily for any reason has the potential to do far more harm than good. As I mentioned last week, researchers have found that aspirin use leads to minute bleeding, called microbleeds, in the brains of the elderly – the folks who are often most dedicated to taking one a day.
And there's a mountain of evidence that regular use of painkillers, including aspirin and ibuprofen, can lead to stomach bleeding from their tendency to cause ulcers that can be fatal.
What makes this worse – what makes this practically a crime – is that there are easy, safe and effective ways to reduce your risk for heart attack, stroke, dementia and many other conditions.
It has to do with your lifestyle, your diet, and how you treat your body.
Treat your body well, eat reasonably, do some exercise, and make sure you're getting all the nutrients you need. And put down those painkillers.