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The Truth About the Headlines Regarding Aspirin as a Preventive Measure

When the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released a draft of a recommendation on September 15th 2015 regarding the use of aspirin to prevent heart disease and cancer, headlines heralding the news in both in print and online proliferated quickly. The New York Times blared “In a First, Aspirin Is Recommended to Fight a Form of Cancer”. The Washington Post grabbed attention with “Expert panel: An aspirin a day can help keep heart attacks — and cancer — away.” Numerous less august publications followed suit with equally exuberant and positive messages. Yet a careful reading of the actual recommendations yields a far less conclusive story.

Most important for readers of is that “there is not enough available evidence on the benefit and harms of aspirin use in adults younger than age 50 and those 70 and older to recommend for or against its use in preventing CVD [cardiovascular disease] and CRC [colorectal cancer]”. Not only that, but the only definite recommendation given is that “most people between the ages of 50 and 59 who have an increased risk of heart attacks or stroke should take a low-dose aspirin every day.” [Italics mine.]

You can read the recommendations for yourself here. When you get there, click on “Draft: Related Information for Consumers” to download the pdf. Also, you have until October 12th 2015 to leave comments if you want to do that here.

Finally, be sure to consult with your own physician regarding aspirin use no matter what your heath status or your age may be. Don’t “self medicate”. But you knew that!


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