Aspirin and Your Health: Past, Present and Future

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 30, 2014

Aspirin, used for centuries as a pain reliever, has only been recognized as having benefits for the heart in the past several decades. In the following video, Dr. JoAnn Manson, Chief, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Division of Preventive Medicine; Co-Director, Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology; and Co-investigator, Nurses’ Health Study, Physicians’ Health Study, and Women’s Health Study, describes the discovery by BWH researchers that aspirin could prevent first heart attacks, saving lives worldwide.

Heart Attack Prevention in Men

Due to aspirin’s ability to thin the blood and prevent platelets from clumping, clinical researchers concluded, in the late 1970s, that aspirin could help prevent heart attacks in people who had suffered them previously. Several randomized trials demonstrated this benefit in high-risk individuals.

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Reducing Colon Cancer Risk – A New Use for Aspirin?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 1, 2013

New research suggests that aspirin use may lower the risk of colon cancer.

The earliest forms of aspirin were discovered centuries ago. Originally, aspirin was used as a pain reliever. In 1989, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) published the results of the Physician’s Health Study, which found that aspirin also helped prevent heart attacks. Now, nearly 25 years later, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have published new research suggesting that aspirin may have another use – lowering the risk of colon cancer.

Using data from the Women’s Health Study, a team of researchers led by Dr. Nancy Cook, BWH Division of Preventive Medicine, analyzed data collected from roughly 40,000 women aged 45 years or older. Approximately half of the women studied received low-dose (100 mg) aspirin every other day for ten years. The other half of the study participants received a placebo or inactive pill. Researchers continued to gather data from women who agreed to follow up for 18 years. At the end of the ten-year study period, there was no difference between the two groups in terms of overall cancer rates. However, at the end of the 18-year follow-up period, those women who had taken low-dose aspirin had a 21 percent lower rate of colorectal cancer versus those who had taken the placebo. The study did not find any differences in the occurrence of other cancer types or cancer deaths between the two groups.

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Butter on the Brain? Think Again.

Posted by Blog Administrator June 13, 2012

Dr. Olivia Okereke

Oil or butter? Dr. Olivia Okereke found that higher amounts of “good” fats, like those found in olive oil, were associated with better cognitive function and memory in women.

We’ve known for some time now that eating too many foods containing “bad” fats – saturated fats or trans fats – isn’t healthy for your heart. Now it appears these fats, which are found in foods such as butter and red meat, may also be bad for your brain.

Dr. Olivia Okereke, of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Psychiatry Department, found that higher amounts of saturated fat, in particular, were linked with worse overall cognitive function and memory over time in women.

On the flip side, higher amounts of one of the “good” fats – monounsaturated fats – were associated with better overall cognitive function and memory. Foods high in monounsaturated fats include olive oil, canola oil, and nuts.

The BWH researchers analyzed data that included food surveys and cognitive test results from a subset of more than 6,000 women, over the age of 65, from the Women’s Health Study.

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