Although it is still "politically correct" to recommend aspirin for preventing heart disease and some type of strokes, the evidence in support of this use is very weak or non-existent. Major studies have found no benefit. The one study that supposedly found a dramatic benefit used Bufferin, a compound containing aspirin and magnesium [Physicians Health Study, NEJM Jan 28, 1988]. The benefits seen in this study can be explained by the presence of magnesium.
Aspirin also inhibits delta 6 desaturase, the enzyme which converts essential fatty acids into their metabolically active constituents.
2013. In an attempt to bring clarity to the topic, UK researchers sifted through the most recent evidence from nine randomized controlled trials - which are considered medicine's gold standard - and other systematic reviews of such trials. They found a total of 27 studies between 2008 and 2012 that fell within their criteria.
"Too many healthy people think that aspirin will prevent heart attacks and cancer," said Dr. Peter Sandercock of the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Sandercock has extensive research experience in this subject, but was not involved in the current study.
"This shows that if you are healthy, with no symptoms of cardiovascular disease, then it's not sensible to take regular aspirin. It won't improve your health," he told Reuters Health. [Reuters Health story of December 16, 2013]