Linda Woolven & Ted Snider
Thursday, February 16th 2017

Use of over-the-counter painkillers is staggeringly common. At least 175 million adults in the United States take OTC painkillers. That makes evaluating their effectiveness and safety crucial. But, it has been a very bad few years in painkiller research. Important recent studies have cast serious doubt on their effectiveness and their safety

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), ibuprofen (Motrin), celecoxib (Celebrex) and others.
Taking NSAIDs to prevent heart disease, as commonly recommended, has dangerous side effects, like bleeding into the brain or stomach. It has long been known that aspirin is a serious cause of ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. A meta-analysis of 24 controlled studies revealed that even taking a low dose of aspirin does not reduce the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding (BMJ 2000;321:1183-7). 28% of people who take low dose Aspirin to prevent heart disease develop an ulcer (Ailementary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 2005;22:795-801).
What’s worse is that, despite this risk, aspirin doesn’t even live up to its reputation for preventing heart disease. Recent research has challenged the recommendation to take aspirin for preventing heart disease. A study of people with multiple risk factors for atherosclerosis, including high blood pressure, cholesterol problems or diabetes was cut short because, though aspirin did significantly increase the risk of side effects, it did not reduce the risk of cardiovascular events (JAMA 2014;312:2510-20).

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