Aspirin madness strikes again

I've never heard of anyone who's gotten sick from too low of an aspirin dosage -- but the world is full of people suffering from serious health problems because of a lack of critical nutrients.

That's a medical fact.

Yet The New York Times recently devoted an editorial page to a man who believes we shouldn't be taking those essential vitamins at all -- but that nearly everyone middle-aged or older should be downing a daily aspirin dosage.

Can you believe this nonsense?

Dr. David Agus' editorial claims aspirin not only can protect the heart, but that it's a "2,000 year old wonder drug" that can prevent other diseases, too, including cancer -- and then cherry picks a bunch of studies to make his point.

For example, he mentions an analysis of 25,000 patients from eight long-term studies that found a regular aspirin dosage lowers the risk of death by cancer by 21 percent.

Sounds great... until you see the parts he left out: None of those studies were designed to measure cancer risk. They were all heart studies -- and the researchers conveniently ignored a major study of 40,000 women that found no cancer benefit at all for taking a daily aspirin dosage.

What else did he leave out? I don't even have the space to list them all -- but here are a few of aspirin's greatest "hits":

  • A 2010 study of 3,350 men and women with a high risk of heart disease given either 100 mg of aspirin a day or a placebo for eight years found no difference in the rate of fatal and nonfatal heart attacks, stroke, angina, revascularization surgery, or claudication (that's a form of pain linked to peripheral artery disease).
  • In 2009, an analysis of six studies found that aspirin use led to only a very slight reduction in risk of heart attack and stroke -- but this tiny "benefit" was more than offset by the risk of serious internal bleeding problems.
  • Earlier this year, Italian researchers found daily aspirin use prevents just two heart attacks for every 1,000 people who take it -- while causing two cases of serious bleeding problems, including stomach bleeds and brain hemorrhages, in every 1,000 patients who take it.

Studies have also linked long-term aspirin use to sexual problems, hearing loss, tinnitus, and vision disorders such as late-stage wet advanced macular degeneration.

One new study just out even finds that aspirin can double the risk of neovascular (or "wet") macular degeneration, the rarest and most serious form of the condition -- and the one most likely to lead to blindness.

Well, I guess you could say it's the rarest form of the condition right now -- but if everyone starts taking the drug as Dr. Agus is urging, you can bet it won't be rare much longer.

Now, if you're on a daily aspirin dosage, don't stop on your own. There are cases where it's actually needed. But don't start taking it on your own, either -- and certainly not because a doctor in a newspaper article or on TV says you should.

That's why it's essential to work with a holistic doctor who can help determine what's right for you. And if you're on aspirin and don't need it, he can wean you off it and onto the nutritional approaches that have proven to help protect the heart, prevent cancer, and do all the other magical things supposedly credited to aspirin -- but with none of the risks.

A holistic physician can help you pick the ones that are best for you. And for complete natural heart-health care, make an appointment to see me at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.