If you've been a reader for long, you know that in most cases I don't have much good to say about taking a daily aspirin. But that said, in some cases it's worth taking, because the benefits outweigh the risks. Here's why.
You may have heard that aspirin can increase your risk of stomach bleeds. According to an extensive review study conducted at Cardiff University's School of Medicine, this is absolutely true. In fact, if you take an aspirin daily, your risk of experiencing a stomach bleed goes up by a whopping 50%.
So why do researchers continue to recommend aspirin use? Because, they reason, a stomach bleed won't kill you. Cancer and heart disease, on the other hand, might. And research has found that taking an aspirin a day can reduce your risk of these diseases by approximately 20-30%. Moreover, aspirin taken in conjunction with chemotherapy or radiotherapy can help further reduce death in bowel cancer patients by about 15% and may help patients with other forms of cancer as well.
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I agree that aspirin can have some benefits. The research in this area is pretty convincing. But I disagree that the risks of stomach bleeding as well as stomach ulcers are worth the benefit — even though I understand that they're a lot less likely to be fatal than cancer and heart disease. That's because there's a way to get the benefits of aspirin without the risks. And I think that's a far better solution.
Aspirin is acetyl-salicylic acid. When we take aspirin, our livers convert it into salicylic acid. Researchers have found that it's actually salicylic acid that provides the benefits, not the aspirin itself. And salicylic acid doesn't involve any of the same risks to your stomach. You can get salicylic acid by taking willow bark extract. Willow bark contains a substance called salicin that our livers also convert into salicylic acid, supplying the same benefits.
You can get willow bark extract in Ultimate Knee Relief, which helps both pain and inflammation in your joints. But taking two per day can also help lower your risk of cancer and heart disease. The only people who should avoid this are people who have an aspirin allergy, since the substances are related. You also should talk to your doctor before taking it if you're on blood thinners. And neither aspirin nor willow bark extract should regularly be given to children under the age of 15. But if you don't fall into any of these categories, willow bark extract can help protect your heart and your stomach.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD