Experts Urge Sparing Use of Nonaspirin Painkillers – The New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration warned last week that the risk of heart attack and stroke from widely used painkillers that include Motrin IB, Aleve and Celebrex but not aspirin was greater than it previously had said. But what does that mean for people who take them?

Experts said that the warning reflected the gathering evidence that there was risk even in small amounts of the drug, so-called nonaspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or Nsaids, and that everyone taking them should use them sparingly for brief periods. Millions of Americans take them.

“One of the underlying messages for this warning has to be there are no completely safe pain relievers, period,” said Bruce Lambert, director of the Center for Communication and Health at Northwestern University, who specializes in drug safety communication.

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But the broader context is important. The relative risk of heart attack and stroke from the drugs is still far smaller than the risk from smoking, having uncontrolled high blood pressure or being obese. At the same time, use of the drugs by someone with those other habits and conditions could compound the risk.

via Experts Urge Sparing Use of Nonaspirin Painkillers – The New York Times.

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How Aspirin Might Stem Cancer – NYTimes.com

How Aspirin Might Stem Cancer

How Aspirin Might Stem Cancer - NYTimes.com

By NICHOLAS BAKALAR

=The use of aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs significantly reduces the risk for cancer, but no one has been able to explain why. Now researchers have found that these drugs slow the accumulation of a type of DNA change called somatic genome abnormalities, or S.G.A.’s, that lead to uncontrolled cell growth.

The scientists studied 13 people with Barrett’s esophagus, a condition in which cells in the esophagus become damaged, usually by acid reflux. Sometimes the cells become precancerous, and rarely the problem leads to esophageal cancer.

The researchers tracked S.G.A.’s with periodic biopsies over an average of almost 12 years. Over all, the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs was associated with a 90 percent reduction in the rate of mutations.

“We used techniques used to measure mutation rate in viruses like H.I.V. to measure it in humans,” said the senior author, Carlo C. Maley, director of the Center for Evolution and Cancer at the University of California, San Francisco. “We measured whole pieces of chromosomes that are getting deleted or copied.” Apparently aspirin slows that rate of mutation.

The study, published last month in the journal PLoS Genetics, is very small, Dr. Maley said, and has yet to be reproduced in a larger population. But since most cancers take decades to develop, he added, “if you could just slow it down, you could slow it enough to have people die of something else.”

via How Aspirin Might Stem Cancer – NYTimes.com.