How many times have you heard "take two aspirin and call me in the morning”? It may be an old joke, but this potent pill, derived from the bark of willow trees, was first recognized over 2,000 years ago by Hippocrates. About 250 years ago it was isolated from willow bark, and was first synthesized in a chemistry lab 120 years ago.
Today, it's commonly used to treat headaches, pain and fever. And a daily aspirin is usually routine in patients who have suffered a heart attack, stroke or had a heart bypass surgery or stent procedure.
But what about the rest of us? While it may lack the sexiness of fermented foods, a probiotic, or bone broth in terms of media attention, should we consider adding a daily aspirin to our health regimen?
This issue is particularly timely, as the United States Preventive Services Task Force recently published a draft recommendation for the use of aspirin to prevent heart disease and cancer. For the first time, they acknowledge a body of medical literature suggesting a daily aspirin might reduce colorectal cancer, as well as heart disease.
These guidelines are important, given that more than half of all deaths in the U.S. are due to heart disease, stroke or cancer. The USPSTF recommendations for low-dose daily aspirin (81 mg) are:
1. In adults younger than age 50, there is insufficient data to assess the benefit versus harm (most commonly, GI bleeding and ulcers).
2. In adults ages 50 to 59 years, aspirin is recommended to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer in those who: