Careful Jumping on the Over-the-Counter Bandwagon

Aspirin could cause harm
Those who take low dose aspirin and are free of medical conditions (such as cardiovascular issues requiring aspirin use) may want to talk to their healthcare provider before
reaching for the tiny little pill.

According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, which published the results of a recent large clinical trial begun in 2010, taking low dose aspirin on a daily basis could do more harm than good.

The trial enrolled more than 19,000 healthy people age 70 and older. The minimum age for
African-American and Hispanic populations was lowered to 65 because of their higher risk for dementia and cardiovascular disease. Half the participants were given low-dose aspirin (100 mg) and the rest, a placebo.

Contrary to the popular belief that aspirin can increase longevity, researchers found its use can actually lead to a greater risk of cancer as well as bleeding, primarily in the gastrointestinal tract and brain. Taking aspirin did not affect onset of dementia or physical disability.

The increase in cancer deaths in study participants in the aspirin group was surprising, given prior studies suggesting aspirin use improved cancer outcomes,” said Dr. Leslie Ford, associate director of clinical research, National Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Prevention. “Analysis of all the cancer related data from the trial is under way and until
we have additional data, these findings are to be interpreted with caution.”

Probiotic supplements have risksProbiotic supplements are commonly used to ‘correct’ the balance of bacteria in the digestive system, but most people don’t realize they may be ineffective or even counterproductive,” says Mindy Haar, Ph.D., who serves as Assistant Dean, Undergraduate Affairs at the New York Institute of Technology’s School of Health Professions.

In an article published by NYIT, Haar, a registered dietitian, states these supplements – now skyrocketing in popularity – have questionable benefits and definite risks. They should be not be used as a universal digestive solution; an individualized approach is recommended.

She points to studies by the Weizmann Institute of Science where researchers found the
supplements to be ineffective for many and, in some cases, actually worsened conditions, leaving probiotic balance unrestored for as long as five months. Additional findings have linked probiotic supplements to bacterial overgrowth which can increase risk of infection and delay the regrowth of the body’s healthy bacteria.

Haar maintains the simpler and safer approach to restoring probiotic balance is through diet with fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt or kombucha tea. Increasing fiber intake also helps.

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