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Monday, 23 September, 2002, 23:47 GMT 00:47 UK
Aspirin 'protects against Alzheimer's'
Aspirin may protect against a range of diseases
Scientists have found yet more evidence to suggest that taking Aspirin could help to protect against major health problems.

Researchers in the United States believe the wonder drug, which is more than 100 years old, delays and may even protect against Alzheimer's disease.


There is a long way to go before we might find a fully-effective treatment or way of preventing the disease

Harriet Millward, Alzheimer's Research Trust
Their findings follow recent studies which suggest Aspirin can help fight cancer, heart disease, blood pressure and arthritis among other conditions.

However, experts have warned that this latest study does not mean people should take Aspirin on a regular basis without first seeking medical advice.

Dr John Breitner and colleagues at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle assessed more than 5,000 people over 65 to see if they had Alzheimer's.

Aspirin link

They also examined whether the patients had regularly taken Aspirin, drugs which include Aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen.

They found that of the 3,227 patients who were still alive 104 had Alzheimer's.

Their study, published in the journal Neurology, showed that patients who had taken Aspirin or NSAIDs for more than two years were half as likely to develop Alzheimer's than those who did not take the pills regularly.

However, the benefits appear only to apply to those who take the medication regularly over a long period.

Patients who had recently started taking Aspirin or NSAIDS were not protected against the disease, the study found.

Dr Breitner said the medication needed to be taken long before any signs of Alzheimer's appear.

"Our results suggest that long-term NSAID use may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, provided the use occurs well before the onset of dementia," he said.

Warning

The Alzheimer's Research Trust welcomed the study but warned patients against taking aspirin without advice from doctors.

Harriet Millward, its deputy chief executive, said: "This newly published work confirms previous results in this area of Alzheimer's research.

"However, the side-effects associated with long-term use of aspirin/ NSAIDs can be serious, including stomach bleeding, ulcers, and kidney problems.

"While this type of research helps us to understand more about Alzheimer's and provides hope to people affected by dementia, unfortunately, there is a long way to go before we might find a fully-effective treatment or way of preventing the disease."

Dr Jim Kennedy of the Royal College of General Practitioners also urged patients to seek medical advice.

"Patients should discuss any concerns they may have with their GP.

"GPs can carry out psychological tests and prescribe medication that may be more effective.

"A full discussion ensures a doctor can draw up a proper plan of action and the best treatment if necessary."

See also:

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