Health & Medicine

Advice from the docs: Aspirin an ounce of prevention

In 1736, Ben Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” He was talking to his fellow Philadelphians about that city’s extreme threat of fire. (He established the Union Fire Company to put out fires if prevention failed!)

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly report recently sounded the alarm that around 30 percent of folks who already have had a heart attack or stroke or who experience angina are not opting for the prevention that a pennies-a-day dose of aspirin can provide. They pointed out how 75-162 mg a day (far less than an ounce) can prevent recurring cardio problems. That’s worth a lot of pounds (and dollars) that you might otherwise have to spend on a cure — if you’re lucky enough to survive another round of heart problems.

For folks with stable ischemic heart disease, aspirin use can cut the risk of another stroke or heart attack by 37 percent, the need for angioplasty by 53 percent and the risk for unstable angina by 46 percent. (We each take 162 mg daily with half a glass of warm water before and after to ease potential gastro problems.)

Added bonus: Aspirin also helps reduce the risk of at least nine different cancers. And a 2011 meta-study of eight randomized clinical studies found that daily aspirin reduced the overall risk of dying from cancer by 20 percent. The largest benefit was in avoiding gastrointestinal cancers, particularly colorectal cancer. Breast, lung and prostate cancer risks also were significantly reduced. Aspirin may be your ounce of prevention.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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