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Adding to aspirin’s rep

Times Staff Writer

IT’S been almost two decades since the discovery that aspirin could help prevent heart attacks and strokes when taken regularly. Now a study suggests the analgesic pill may also help prevent the development of asthma in adults.

The study, published in the Jan. 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, found that among a large group of healthy men age 40 to 84, those taking a single aspirin (325 milligrams) every other day were 22% less likely to develop asthma than those who did not.

The findings drew upon data collected from male physicians in the United States between 1982 and 1988. Of the 22,071 who participated in this trial, 258 reported in the almost five-year study period that they had developed asthma. Among the half who had taken aspirin, 113 became asthmatic. Among those who took a sugar-pill instead of aspirin, 145 developed the disease.

The study’s lead author, Tobias Kurth of Harvard University’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said that when it comes to asthma, there were many possible explanations for the apparently protective effects of aspirin. One possibility, he said, is that aspirin’s anti-inflammatory effects may help suppress the development of asthma’s inflamed airways. However, genetic inheritance and environmental exposures also play a key role in asthma development, he cautioned, and aspirin alone is unlikely to trump such powerful factors.

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melissa.healy@latimes.com


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