An Aspirin a Day?
Dale Petersen MD – Building Health
The health adage used to be “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” In today’s society, in which fruit and vegetable consumption is low and the reliance on drugs is high, a more apt description of our attitude toward health is “An aspirin a day keeps the doctor at bay.” It seems that more people in the United States are taking an aspirin a day than are eating an apple a day.
Rather than increase their intake of fresh produce, an alarming number of people have adopted the popular myth that the single best step a person can take to protect his or her health is to take an aspirin a day. My experience is that most have no idea why they are doing so. When I ask why a person is taking an aspirin a day the most common response I receive is, “I don’t know. I heard it was a good thing to do.”
Is taking an aspirin a day a good thing? My opinion is that it is not. It is simply a dangerous substitute for providing the body with the nutrients it needs to function properly. Aspirin is a drug, and drugs are inevitably associated with undesirable side effects. Aspirin is no exception.
Ironically, it is one of aspirin’s toxic effects that accounts for its popularity. As little as 75 mg. of aspirin will poison the body’s platelets, making them incapable of performing the function for which they are designed, clumping together to stop bleeding at a site of injury. Since it takes at least 48 hours for the body to manufacture enough new platelets to do the job of plugging leaks in the vascular system, an individual will be at increased risk for bruising or bleeding internally for two days after taking a single 81 mg. baby aspirin.
Why would someone choose to accept this risk? I believe that it is generally due to ignorance, of not realizing that the risk exists. The fact that an aspirin a day actually increases the risk of stroke in most people is the aspirin industry’s dirty little secret.
To make an informed decision about any action one must ask three questions. What are the benefits? What are the risks? What are the alternatives?
In our culture the benefits of any drug are magnified and the risks associated with that drug are minimized or ignored. Pharmaceutical advertisements display beautiful pictures and play soft music while an announcer proclaims the virtues of the product. At the end, in fast, hushed tones, a partial list of possible side effects is given almost as an inconsequential afterthought.
What are the benefits of taking an aspirin a day? Aspirin poisons platelets and prevents them from clumping together. If you have not been giving your body the nutrients necessary to produce healthy platelets they will be sticky and tend to clump together even when no injury is present. These clumps can clog a narrowed artery and be one of the factors that trigger a heart attack. Taking an aspirin a day will virtually guarantee that your platelets do not clump together unnecessarily.
What are the risks of taking an aspirin a day? Once poisoned, your platelets cannot work under any circumstance. This means that a minor bump can result in a significant bruise and that nosebleeds are more likely to occur.
Dr. Dale Peterson is a graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Medicine. He completed his residency in FamilyMedicine at the University of Oklahoma. He is a past president of the Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians. He had a full-time family practice in Edmond, Oklahoma, for over 20 years and was a Chief of Staff of the Edmond Hospital. He was active in teachingfor many years as a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine through the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center.
Dr. Peterson left his full-time family practice in 1999 to consult with individuals who are seeking ways to restore and maintain their health through improved nutrition and other lifestyle changes. He founded the Wellness Clubs of America to give people access to credible information on supporting and maintaining their health. His monthly wellness letter, Health by Design, and his Health by Design E-Newsletter provide helpful information to individuals interested in preventing and conquering health challenges. His book Building Health by Design: Adding Life to Your Years and Years to Your Life was released in December 2010.
Dr. Peterson speaks regularly on subjects related to health and nutrition. He hosted a weekly radio program,Your Health Matters, on KTOK in Oklahoma City for five years. For the past nine years he has addressed questions from across the nation on his Your Health Matters weekly teleconference.He offers a free video LifeXtension course at www.drdalepeterson.com.