The medical fad that does the opposite of what it promises- and what to take instead
Fads in medicine come and go, but it looks like aspirin is forever. It has been, for at least 50 years, the most popular over-the-counter drug in the world, primarily for pain relief. Few would argue about its effectiveness for mild to moderate pain relief. But when Tylenol and NSAIDs took over the pain field, the aspirin industry bigwigs went for the Big Banana: heart disease. What the heck, they figured. After all, a billion-dollar medicine has to go somewhere. So aspirin has acquired new indications as a blood-clot fighter and is already widely used to treat and prevent strokes and heart attacks.
And now, with the advent of the "anti-coagulant era," just about every male I know over the age of 60 (and many younger) are taking "an aspirin a day to keep the doctor away." Well, it didn't work for apples and I don't think it works for aspirin either. But that isn't stopping its promoters from telling people it will do that and a whole lot more.
You might assume that, in this modern era, the claims for this drug, which I like to call "Placebomycin," are restrained and scientific. But have a look at some of the other claims the Aspirin Institute is making about its product. The "Institute" strongly hints ("studies suggest that...") that this "miracle drug" cures, decreases, alleviates, or prevents:
- Breast cancer
- Migraine headaches
- Hodgkin's disease
- Alzheimer's disease
- Prostate cancer
- Cancer of the pancreas
- Colon cancer
- Birth defects
- Leukemia Immune disorders, including AIDS
If that last one were true, it would certainly make aspirin the Prince of Pills all over again. (Take that, Tylenol!)
The above is merely a partial list. So the "experts" seem to think that at least 95 percent of the population needs aspirin on a daily basis. But the dangers associated with extensive use of aspirin are downright horrifying.
Researchers have reported that aspirin might, in fact, increase your risk for stroke, heart attack, macular degeneration (blindness), and cataract formation. You didn't hear anything about these findings because no one reported on them in the popular press. So if you don't read medical journals in your spare time, you probably missed these REAL bits of news.
Here's what the researchers have to say:
• 40 percent of people who regularly take large doses of aspirin actually demonstrated an increased risk of both stroke and heart attack.
• Regular aspirin users have a significantly increased risk of macular degeneration with blindness
• Aspirin use also puts people at a 44 percent increased risk of cataracts
• And, of course, there's always the widely known increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding that accompanies aspirin too
And these sorts of findings weren't published in some lowly rag. No, the highly respected prestigious rags, like the British Medical Journal, Lancet, and the Journal of the American Medical Association, came to a similar conclusion: aspirin shows no benefit in the prevention of heart attacks.
Not a nutrient
You'd be amazed how incompetent people are. Many people don't know their right hand from their left and can't tell you where north is even in their own hometown. This "lumpen dingen" (a term invented by America's leading philosopher, Bill Bonner) will usually do whatever the media tells them is "right," "healthy," or "good for the country," no matter how preposterous it is. In his seminal book Financial Reckoning Day, Bonner wrote "It is widely said that the Internet would make people smarter by giving them access to much more information. What it really did was make people more in tune with mob thinking-for now their own thoughts were crowded out by the constant noise of the World Wide Web." Mr. Bonner added: "As mad as individuals can be, groups of individuals can be even madder. Not only do they act differently, they think differently too-usually in a manner that is simple-minded, and often moronic or delusional."
This is evident in the case of aspirin. An estimated 20 million people are taking it daily. After all, "everyone knows" it's good for you. The media and the Internet have spread that word so effectively that if you ask a lumpen-excuse me, patient-if he takes any drug on a regular basis, he'll usually respond: "No, nothing but a daily aspirin for my heart." They answer "no" because aspirin has become so common and accepted that most people consider it a nutrient instead of the chemical poison it really is.