Daily aspirin shown to drive down diabetes risk in older adults
While research shows that taking a daily dose of aspirin could have some definite pros and cons, a new study adds a tick to the pro column. It was found that low-dose supplementation with the drug reduced type 2 diabetes development in adults over 65 by 15%.
The humble aspirin has certainly seen its star rise and fall a few times in the medical research community. Long thought to be a safe and smart way to lower the risk of having a heart attack due to its blood-thinning abilities, in 2022 it was recommended by the US Preventive Services Health Force that healthy people over 60 avoid taking the drug, as its risk of increasing internal bleeding outweighed its minor effects on heart health.
Yet earlier this year, it was shown that frequent aspirin use resulted in a 13% reduction in ovarian cancer regardless of genetic predisposition to the disease. Conversely, another study released early this summer indicated that daily aspirin supplementation could increase anemia risk in older adults.
Adding another potential benefit to supplementation with the analgesic is a new study led by researchers from Monash University in Australia. The team enrolled over 16,000 people aged 65 or older to either take a daily placebo or a low dose of 100 mg of aspirin. Study members were screened to be free of dementia, cardiovascular disease, and any kind of physical disability that hampered independent living.
The study participants were followed for 4.7 years and it was found that, compared to the placebo group, those that took the aspirin had a 15% reduction in the development of diabetes. They also had a slower rate of an increase in their fasting plasma glucose, a key marker of the disease.
"Aspirin treatment reduced incident diabetes and slowed the increase in fasting plasma glucose over time among initially healthy older adults," said the study authors. "Given the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes among older adults, the potential for anti-inflammatory agents like aspirin to prevent type 2 diabetes or improve glucose levels needs further study."
Despite the benefits seen in the study, the researchers are quick to point out that currently, they do not supersede the advice that healthy older adults avoid aspirin supplementation due to the risk of internal bleeding, especially in the gastrointestinal tract.
"We know the use of daily aspirin increases risk of potentially serious bleeding in people with diabetes and others, so we advise only taking daily low-dose aspirin if your doctor recommends it and they will discuss exactly what dose is right for you," Faye Riley, from Diabetes UK told the Independent. "We do know the best ways to reduce your risk of type 2 are getting support to lose weight if you need to, eating a healthy, balanced diet and doing more physical activity. "
The research will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Hamburg, Germany from October 2-6.