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It helps prevent cancer, reduces the risk of stroke and can provide significant protection against heart attacks - yet it's one of the cheapest drugs on the market.
What is this wonder-drug that you can afford to take every day without busting the bank?
Well apparently it's good old aspirin, known to geeks as acetylsalicylic acid.
I've lost track of the number of articles I've read on the science wires over the past year or so, which have reported the amazing effects that this super-cheap (because there's no patent) pill.
Researchers are now revisiting this age-old non-specific anti-inflammatory and analgesic substance with renewed vigor to try and figure out just how it achieves these miraculous effects and they're starting to come up with some interesting results.
I had a chat to my own doctor about the benefits of taking a low-dose daily aspirin and he was less than enthusiastic.
Although there appear to be some significant benefits to such medication, there are also some risky side-effects.
Damage to the intestinal tract can produce bleeding and long-term exposure can also produce kidney damage. Another not-so widely known reaction can be chronic tinnitus -- although this is a reaction that is produced by hundreds of other medications as well.
So is aspirin really a wonder-drug? Will it replace the growing array of complex, and extremely expensive medications used to treat many of the diseases that kill us?
It may be that we will never really find out.
Because the vast majority of drug research is conducted by companies that rely on patenting their products and thus protecting huge profit margins. A drug such as aspirin which can no longer be patented clearly does not fit the parameters for something worth researching to any degree.
In fact, I would not be surprised to see many of the major pharmaceutical companies focusing on the side-effects and possible risks associated with the use of aspirin -- rather than researching the benefits.
Nobody is going to get rich selling aspirin but there's a fortune to be made flogging other patented potions -- even if they're not as effective or carry even greater risks for those who take them.
Given that most of us will likely die of heart disease, stroke or cancer, it could be argued that a daily dose of aspirin might be worth the risks that it poses--but I guess that will remain a personal choice.
Are any readers taking aspirin as a method of reducing their cancer, stroke or heart-disease risk I wonder and if so, have you noticed any side-effects yet?
Will the public be duped by drug companies who'd rather sell their more complex, patented and expensive potions than admit that good old aspirin may actually be more effective?
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