Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Aspirin May Prevent Liver Damage

A new study claims that a daily dose of a common product could prevent liver damage. This may mean that millions of people who abuse alcohol and/or who are obese could reduce their chances of harming the body's biggest internal organ. Surprisingly, this may be possible with the lowly painkiller, aspirin.

Scientists writing in the Journal of Clinical Investigation said that tests on mice showed aspirin reduced death caused by an overdose of acetaminophen, best known in the USA as the over-the-counter product Tylenol. In addition, aspirin may help prevent and treat liver damage from a host of other non-infectious causes, said Wajahat Mehal from Yale School of Medicine (New Haven, CT).

"Many agents such as drugs and alcohol cause liver damage, and we have found two ways to block a central pathway responsible for such liver injury. Our strategy is to use aspirin on a daily basis to prevent liver injury," Mehal reports.

As an added bonus to this new research, certain promising drugs that have failed clinical trials because of liver toxicity could potentially be resurrected if they are later combined with aspirin. Mr Mehal said: "This offers the exciting possibility of reducing a lot of pain and suffering in patients with liver diseases, using a new and very practical approach."

Previous work has shown that women who take aspirin once a day may slightly reduce their risk of the most common type of breast cancer; of course, it is well known that a daily aspirin is recommended to prevent heart attacks in people at high risk of having one. Nine recent studies have shown how aspirin can help treat heart attacks. Doses between 75 milligrams and 325 milligrams help thin the blood, scientists have found. (Aspirin isn't without complications -- blood thinning can be a problem for someone going into surgery. As always, discuss an aspirin regimen with a doctor before implementing.)


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