A daily dose of medication was widely regarded as a way to protect oneself from debilitating health deficiencies like cancer in the future.  However, a recent scientific study by ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) surprisingly reveals such unquestionable faith in low-dose aspirin to be unfounded, closer to a myth than to scientific fact. In retrospect, the long term use of aspirin may even be deleterious for healthy old people who have not experienced a heart stroke yet, shifting our current understanding of the aspirin and its questionable role in the health of people.

Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the findings of ASPREE were endorsed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to aptly determine a cost and benefit analysis of daily dose aspirin. ASPREE conducted its study on 19,114 people of great racial diversity in the U.S. aged 65 and older. These participants took a low-dose aspirin of 100 milligrams for 4.7 years to their greatest shock: the pill did not serve any medical benefits of lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases or disability but rather increased risk of bleeding in the brain and digestive tract. 361 participants who took the aspirin experienced significant bleeding, requiring immediate hospitalization or transfusion compared to 265 of those who took the placebo. Even more notably, a slight yet troubling correlation with higher death rates was found with the usage of the aspirin: the death rate for patients who took the aspirin was 5.9 percent while death rate for those who didn’t was 5.2 percent. As expected, the 50 percent of these deaths were attributed to cancer.

The data from the study clearly underlines the risks and ramifications of taking the aspirin when not truly needed. However, it is not complete without its own loopholes and unanswered questions. The results from the study apply most conclusively to people with similar conditions to the test subjects in the trial: those in the same age range with no history of heart strokes, dementia, or physical disabilities and also no regular use of the pill beforehand. It also fails to address the pressing scientific inquiry of whether those who have been regularly using the pill until now should necessarily stop their accustomed actions.

Regardless, the new revelation is an unparalleled scientific revolution, challenging all the previous medical studies and debunking the general myth in ardent favor of low dose pills. The experiment’s greatest takeaway is frightening: aspirin is not a universal savior and may be, in fact, a poison for some. Though there is strong evidence that a daily aspirin could reduce future heart attacks for those who have already suffered one or have a high risk, the drug’s medical value is ambiguous for those over the age 70 in a stable health condition. There is an immediate necessity for healthy, aged people to consult their doctors and understand how the large-scale new findings apply to them individually.

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