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New study backs use of aspirin for older women

Tue., March 27, 2007

CHICAGO – Aspirin in low to moderate doses may lower the risk of death in women, particularly those who are older and prone to heart disease, a 24-year study of nearly 80,000 women suggests.

However, experts cautioned that the results are not definitive and that women should not take aspirin as a health preventive without talking to their doctors.

In this long-running study of nurses who were middle-aged and older, women who took aspirin had a 25 percent lower risk of death compared to those who never took it. Aspirin-takers had a 38 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 12 percent lower risk of death from cancer.

Many doctors advise people who’ve had heart attacks and strokes to take a daily 81-milligram baby aspirin. The new study suggests aspirin may help healthy women, too.

No benefit was found for high doses, which the study defined as two or more standard 325-milligram aspirin tablets a day.

The size and length of the new study, appearing in Monday’s Archives of Internal Medicine, make the results compelling. But the research, based on data from the long-running Nurses Health Study, was observational, meaning the women chose whether to take aspirin, rather than being randomly assigned to take it – a gold standard in research.


 

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