British researchers warn that healthy people who take aspirin every day to prevent a heart attack or stroke could actually be increasing their risk of internal bleeding.
Aspirin helps people who have had a heart attack or stroke by preventing blood clots from forming in the body. But scientists now warn that only people with a history of these problems should take the tablets.
An aspirin a day may increase risk of internal bleeding
Researchers analysed data from 9 trials and a total of 102,621 patients, following them for an average of 6 years.
The results, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, show that whilst there is a 20 per cent reduction in non-fatal heart attacks in people taking aspirin, there is no reduction in deaths from heart attacks, strokes or cancer.
In addition the risk of potentially life threatening internal bleeding increased by an average of 30 per cent.
Lead researcher Prof Kausik Ray, from St George's, University of London, told the BBC: "If you treat 73 people for about six years you will get one of these non-trivial bleeds.”
"If you treat about 160 people for the same period of time, you're preventing one heart attack that probably wouldn't have been fatal anyway.”
"It suggests that the net benefit for aspirin is not there, it certainly doesn't prolong life. If you think about it the net benefit, actually there is net harm.”
The UK-led study concludes only people with a history of heart problems or stroke should take the tablets. Experts said any decision should be made with a doctor.
Scientists recently recommended a daily dose of aspirin for patients at high risk of bowel cancer, after a study revealed a high success rate in people with Lynch syndrome.
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