I just read this article posted from NPR. Hmmm, aspirin and macular degeneration. It seems I've heard of this connection before. I read it in one of my reference books, Prescription Alternatives by Earl L. Mindell, RPh, PhD.
In it they state:
"Used long term, aspirin often does more harm than good. It causes gastric bleeding and ulcers, suppresses the immune system, and promotes macular degeneration, an irreversible eye disease that is the leading cause of blindness in the United States."
So my question is... if my book was published in 2003, why are they presenting this study as if the information is brand new?
Many of my clients take an aspirin a day to "prevent" heart attacks and strokes. Even those that are firm believers in the power of natural health still think that taking an aspirin a day is harmless. But apparently aspirin blocks the production of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which regulate every cell in the body. Some prostaglandins play a role in inflammation, pain, and artery clogs while others do not. The problem is that aspirin blocks all prostaglandin formation regardless of whether it is good or bad. So while it may protect you from some types of strokes it actually increases the risk of others. And the risk is no less even if you are only taking a baby aspirin each day.
It turns out that if you have more good prostaglandins than bad ones your risk for heart disease goes down. Which makes sense if we try to think about what the body is trying to accomplish. If there is damage within the body then the body produces prostaglandins that will promote the healing of that damage despite the fact that it causes us pain, inflammation and clots. If there is no damage there is no need for the so called "bad" prostaglandins, right? In reality, prostaglandins can't be labelled as either good or bad. They just do their job.
What causes "bad" prostaglandins to form? Well, the biggest factor is dietary of course. Hydrogenated oils such as margarine and a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates promotes inflammation because they are damaging to our body.
There is an astounding amount of misinformation about fats and oils and what they do in the body. If you'd like to know more I suggest my previous post: Cholesterol Rant. Or look for the next time I will be offering my one day class called The Big FAT Lie on our events page.
So, if I were you I would forget the aspirin a day. If you want to encourage the good prostaglandins over the bad then avoid those things that cause damage and inflammation to the body. If you are really worried about your risk of heart disease then I would consider taking some borage oil (1 to 2 mg daily), which contains the "good" prostaglandin promoter, GLA and/or Fish oil (50 to 100 mg daily), which contains EPA that inhibits the "bad" prostaglandin formation.
To Your Health!
Kathryn Doran-Fisher is a Traditional Naturopath, Certified GAPS Practitioner and owner of Elder & Sage.