The debate about the benefits and risks of taking daily aspirin continues, and a new study has added another check mark to the pro column. Researchers from Monash University in Australia found that taking low-dose aspirin reduced the development of type 2 diabetes in adults over the age of 65 by 15%. This study is further evidence of the potential benefits of aspirin, despite previous recommendations that healthy people over the age of 60 should avoid taking the drug because of the risk of internal bleeding.
“Aspirin treatment reduced the incidence of diabetes and slowed the increase in plasma glucose levels over time among initially healthy older adults. Given the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes among older adults, the potential of anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin to prevent type 2 diabetes or improve glucose levels warrants further study.” – Study authors
Aspirin has long been known for its blood-thinning properties and has previously been recommended as a safe and effective treatment for reducing the risk of heart attacks. However, in 2022, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against its use in healthy people over the age of 60, as the increased risk of internal bleeding outweighed its minor effects on heart health. Despite this, recent studies have identified potential benefits of aspirin, such as reducing the risk of ovarian cancer and slowing the rise in plasma glucose levels in the elderly.
The study, conducted by scientists from Monash University, involved more than 16,000 people aged 65 and older. Participants were randomized to take a placebo or low-dose aspirin (100 mg) daily. Individuals with dementia, cardiovascular disease, and any physical disabilities that prevented independent living were excluded from the study. At 4.7 years, it was found that those who took aspirin had a 15% reduction in the development of type 2 diabetes compared to the group who took a placebo. In addition, the aspirin group slowed the rate of increase in plasma glucose levels, a major marker of diabetes.
The study authors emphasize that while the results are promising, they do not outweigh current recommendations for healthy older adults to avoid taking aspirin because of the risk of internal bleeding. Faye Riley of Diabetes UK advises that daily low-dose aspirin should only be taken on the advice of a doctor and emphasizes the importance of weight control, healthy eating and physical activity to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
“We know that taking daily aspirin increases the risk of potentially serious bleeding in people with diabetes and others, so we advise taking daily low-dose aspirin only if recommended by your doctor, who will discuss what dose is right for you.” – Faye Riley, Diabetes UK
The study, conducted by researchers from Monash University, provides further evidence of the potential benefit of low-dose aspirin in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in older people. However, it is important to note that existing recommendations for healthy older adults to avoid taking aspirin due to the risk of internal bleeding remain valid. Further research is needed to fully understand the role of anti-inflammatory agents such as aspirin in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.