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Posted 12 months ago
Aspirin: The 2,000-Year-Old Wonder Drug
Move over apples, there’s a new sheriff in town. It seems that aspirin, the pain reliever relied on to ease a throbbing headache or aching back, taken once a day could be what actually keeps the doctor away.
Multiple studies have shown that 75 mg a day of aspirin can cut a person’s risk of colon cancer by anywhere from 17 to 28 percent. It also reduces the odds of dying post-colon cancer diagnosis by 30 to 40 percent.
Popping one baby aspirin a day has also been shown to protect memory and cognitive function in older adults, according to research recently published in BMJ Open. The cheap over-the-counter remedy could cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by a whopping 55 percent.
As Americans search for options to trim the costs of health care, many are looking to this affordable, ancient remedy as a wonder drug.
Aspirin and Your Heart
In addition to being beneficial for brain and colon health, aspirin is good for your heart.
According to the Mayo Clinic, an aspirin a day ups your heart health by interfering with your blood's clotting action. When you bleed, cells in your blood called platelets build up at the site of a cut or wound to help form a plug that stops the bleeding. This clotting can also occur in the blood vessels that supply blood to your heart, leading to a blood clot that can block the artery or prevent proper blood flow.
While it doesn’t completely prohibit clotting altogether, aspirin helps by reducing platelets' ability to clot.
Aspirin Through the Ages
Officially known as acetylsalicylic acid or ASA, aspirin’s origins date back to 2,000 BC when references to medicine made from salicylate-rich plants like willow being used to treat fevers have been found in Egyptian papyri. In 400 BC, Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” recommended willow bark (which is rich in salicylic acid) to treat aches and pains and as an analgesic for women in labor.
Willow bark’s popularity stood the test of time. Legend says Lewis and Clark relied on it to treat fevers suffered during their famous expedition. In the nineteenth century pharmacists began experimenting with and prescribing chemicals related to salicylic acid, the active component of willow extract.
Modern day’s version of aspirin is the result of German chemist Felix Hoffman’s work in 1897.
Is an aspirin a day for you?
Despite its popularity doctors don’t readily recommend aspirin to their patients, or see aspirin as voluntary.
However the mounting body of research pointing to aspirin’s ability to protect against a host of diseases begs the question--should Americans ask their doctor about incorporating an aspirin a day?
Many doctors do suggest daily aspirin therapy to patients who:
Consult Your Physician
The typical dosage of aspirin as a preventative is 75 mg, less than a standard baby aspirin. However, many doctors will prescribe 81 mg, the dose of a typical baby aspirin, up to 325 mg, which is a regular strength aspirin.
There are downsides to aspirin including aspirin allergy that can trigger an asthma attack, bleeding stomach ulcers and clotting disorders. Before starting a daily aspirin regimen it’s best to talk to your doctor about your specific benefits and risks.
"It's been well over two decades since we've had any major breakthroughs," in drug treatments for depression, said Steven Hollon, a professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, who was not involved in the study. "Anything that can produce a rapid response in a refractory patient population has got real potential to help down the line."
The new drug may not produce serious side effects because it does not block glutamate binding as completely as ketamine does.
However, the new drug does not appear to work quite as well as ketamine. In a previous study, more than half of patients who took ketamine responded within an hour and 20 minutes (compared with 27 percent for AZD6765), and the antidepressant effects lasted for seven days.
Future studies may test higher or more frequent doses of the drug, or perhaps the drug can be developed as an oral form, Zarate said. Researchers may also test new drugs that target the glutamate system, he said.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. The pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca owns a patent on AZD6765, and provided the study drug. One of the study authors works for AstraZeneca.
Due to these favorable traits, Klonopin, Valium, and other benzodiazepines can be extremely habit-forming, cause blackouts, and even death by overdose. It is not uncommon for Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium to be taken in conjunction with other drugs.
Often likened to heroin, Oxycodone is prescribed by doctors about six million times a year. Because these pills can cost hundreds of dollars a pill, addicts often have to steal to afford the habit.
In 2010, Darvocet was pulled off the market in the United States because it was found to lead to heart complications in patients.
Codeine (Purple Drank)
Codeine cough syrup is the base for “purple drank” or “sizzurp,” a concoction made with soda and candy that was popularized in some early 2000s hip-hop music.
It’s most commonly misused today under the brand name Adderall by those who need to skip on sleep, such as truck drivers, college students working on deadlines, and shift workers.
One reason Ritalin and other ADHD drugs are so commonly abused is their availability. In 2005, doctors prescribed Ritalin and similar drugs more than 29 million times, and that number continues to rise.