Asthma :: Aspirin may protect against the development of asthma

Results of a large US study suggest that taking low-dose aspirin on a regular basis may not only protect against heart attacks, but also the development of asthma in adulthood.

Writing in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Dr R Graham Barr, from Columbia University Medical Center in New York, and his team explain: “The increase [in asthma rates] in the USA coincided with a substantial decline in the use of aspirin?in the late 1970s and 1980s.”

Furthermore, the researchers say that a previous study conducted in women suggested that those who took aspirin regularly had a lower rate of newly diagnosed asthma than those who did not.

To investigate further, Dr Barr and his team assessed the rate of newly diagnosed asthma in more than 22,000 healthy male doctors who were participating in a study on the effects of aspirin on heart health. Around half the participants were assigned to take regular low-dose aspirin while the remainder received a dummy medication (placebo).

It is interesting to note that the trial was halted after 4 years because the incidence of heart attacks among participants taking aspirin was 44% lower than among those taking placebo.

Concerning rates of newly diagnosed asthma among the participants, analysis revealed that men taking low-dose aspirin were 22% less likely to develop the respiratory disease than those who were not.

This finding remained true after taking into account factors such as smoking, body mass index and age.

Dr Barr and colleagues conclude: “These results suggest that aspirin may reduce the risk of the development of asthma in adults.”

However, they warn: “They do not imply that aspirin improves symptoms in patients with asthma; indeed, aspirin can cause severe bronchospasm [asthma attacks] in some patients with asthma.”

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