Aspirin miracle cures...has the world gone mad?

Friday 23rd March 2012

  • Don't fall for the Aspirin miracle without understanding the full story
  • The real risk to our children's health from the drug giants
  • Grab a grumpy old man for a laugh!

Oh save me from media hyped medical claims!

This week we had the return of aspirin as the miracle cancer cure.

I think we all need to be a bit cynical when such a high powered good news story hits the headlines in Budget week – and in this case you would be right to do so.

Look, Aspirin is a worthwhile and multi-potent low cost drug which has a long history of safe and effective use. This is fact and therefore incontrovertible.

However, like every single drug available it is no cure-all.

There is NO single intervention which is a panacea of health, and more importantly the ills of modern life cannot be controlled by taking pills – irrespective of their cost.

This week a reputable research fellow for Oxford University published a report which summarised a series of trials and concluded that taking an aspirin a day can prevent the spread of cancer.

Taken in isolation I don’t think this is bad news, in fact I am glad that this research brings a glimmer of hope for the middle aged folk who are at risk of developing cancers.

But that only tells part of the story, and surprisingly it is that part that makes the news because the other bit isn’t so appealing.

Aspirin causes an increase in bleeding disorders, especially in the stomach and gut which can prove fatal in their own way.

The Oxford team looked at 90 or so studies to draw their conclusions, but conveniently chose to ignore those studies which showed either adverse or no effect from taking the drug.

Now doesn’t that worry you? It should because similar research from The Medical School in Virginia, USA showed that upto 20,000 deaths per year could be attributed directly to this drug.

I don’t want to come across as an old kill joy here, and would happily admit that this kind of research is both powerful and encouraging but it needs to be tempered with a little realism.

It is never beneficial when the popular, and not so popular, press starts screaming about ‘miracle cures’, ‘simple health solutions’ and ‘the once a day drug to cure cancer’.

There are no such things and I will always suspect foul play when this kind of thing happens.

I know you are all too cute to let this kind of news blitz carry you away, however, there could be worse around the corner – and it is a real threat to our kids...

Quick fix health – why pill popping kids could be the future

...proof, if any were needed that the big pharmaceutical companies are trying to get us all hooked.

Just last week Professor Sarah Harper told the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing that before long she was expecting children to be on statins rather than good food and exercise.

She warned “I think we may be entering a world where preventable chronic disease will not be prevented by public health measures tackling lifestyles, but increasingly by drug therapies which will control and reduce symptoms.”

Noting that academics were tending to promote pharmaceutical remedies being prescribed at earlier stages of life, she said we needed to act before healthy living became replaced by a magic pill.

These academics are usually in the payroll of the big players in the industry, and through clever marketing, and not so subtle financial inducements are getting our GP’s to punt their wares out to us on a more frequent basis.

This has to stop before it is too late.

The Prof ended her lecture with the following;

“We have to ask if we wish our future to be one where individuals at increasingly younger ages pop pill rather than eat healthily, stop smoking, reduce alcohol and take up exercise. Do we want our 10 year olds popping stains?”

Let me answer that one... NO WE DON’T! And furthermore, we don’t want to see ANYONE popping statins as a matter of course.

Let’s have a return to good old common sense public health supported by schools and doctors, without commercial greed setting our agenda.

Having vented my spleen over that one I thought I’d end this week on a lighter note...

I may be old but I’m not grumpy... It’s official!

TV has much to be blamed for, especially in our house.

If I venture an opinion on youth, or comment on the national state over the dinner table I am faced by a chorus of “Sign him up for the next series of Grumpy Old Men!”

It’s so unfair.

So, it was with great delight that I read an article in the Telegraph the other week saying that as us old boys age we actually get happier.

Researchers at Warwick University have proved that even though our physical capabilities wane with age our mental wellbeing improves.

Using eight factors to evaluate quality of life including health, pain, social activity and mental capability they found that we get happier with age.

And further good news was available for those of us with a ‘fuller figure’, it seems that a higher BMI (body mass index) score did not have significant impact on levels of mental health.

I’ve got a theory about all this, as you would expect no doubt.

You see, as we age we know that there is only so much we can do – for instance I will now never get the chance to pull on the Welsh rugby jersey in anger, I shan’t get the chance to marry Farrah Fawcett and my hair isn’t growing back any day soon.

These are facts that I have long accepted.

As a result I actually take delight in the things I do achieve, I realise that life isn’t fair and I accept hardship as part of the general ebb and flow.

All of this means that I am a lighter soul, one who is prepared to laugh a little more often. This shouldn’t be a surprise to any Good Life Letter reader I suspect.

Yours, as always




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