Q: I keep hearing that aspirin protects you from a lot of serious health problems AND that it can tear up your guts. Is it safe, and should I take it?
NANCY H., Chicago
A:All the info about aspirin that's swirling around is enough to give you a headache! But we've been advocates of preventive aspirin therapy for a long time, and there is ever more evidence that DONE RIGHT (and with your doctor's OK) it can be mild on your gut and a very smart choice.
Here are some basic facts:
1. Aspirin may irritate the gastrointestinal tract, especially in high doses over a long period of time.
Solution: If you're already prescribed a daily dose of aspirin, follow your doc's advice! Otherwise, take two low-dose aspirins (81 mg): We do one in the morning and one in the evening, but you can take both at once if that's easier for you. And ALWAYS drink half a glass of warm water before and after you take the pill(s).
2. Aspirin is an anticoagulant (that's part of its benefit in preventing stroke).
Solution: Find out from your doc how it interacts with medications, supplements and herbs you're taking and if you're at risk for bleeding-related problems.
3. A small percentage of folks seem aspirin-resistant. This may be because they take just one coated (enteric) aspirin, which seems to decrease absorption in some people!
Solution: Aspirin-resistant? Never coated and always with those glasses of warm water!
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.