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Low-Dose Aspirin Has No Effect Against Aging Brains
There has been hope that the use of low-dose aspirin would protect older, healthy women against cognitive decline such as memory and thinking. However, according to a study published recently in the British Medical Journal, this is not the case at all.
Earlier evidence suggested aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs might help protect aging brains from dementia. The Women’s Health Study focused on brain health and involved 6,400 women aged 65 or over between the years of 1998 and 2004 and did not reveal evidence that use of low-dose aspirin would protect aging brains.
Low-dose aspirin has significant cardiovascular benefits. Low-dose aspirin taken on a daily routine basis helps to prevent both heart attacks and strokes in women 65 and over. The new guidelines state women under 65 should not be taking aspirin routinely.
In the Women’s Health Study the first assessment was taken after 5.6 years of treatment. It was found that cognitive performance was similar in the two groups. The second assessment after 9.6 years of treatment revealed the same results. The risk of decline in cognitive function was comparable between the two groups. One area in which there was a hint of better performance was on the category fluency test. The association was far from definitive.
Researchers found that the data suggested low-dose aspirin might be of help among people who are current smokers or have elevated cholesterol if these were not “chance” findings. They could not find other studies that replicate this finding.
Limitations of the study included:
• The population in question was generally “younger old” and white.
The risk of dementia is really more prevalent in women after age 85. Since the trial ended, researchers cannot continue to follow these same women at the later age. Therefore, whether or not aspirin is beneficial in those who are older and high-risk is really not known. What they did conclude was that there is no significant improvement at all in women less than 85 years of age.
The study was well-run and had a big sample with careful measures. If there was a relationship, researchers feel, the Women’s Health Study would have found it.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All health concerns should be addressed by a qualified health care professional
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