News on Health & Science

Daily Aspirin Could be BAD for You

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A British study has found that daily use of aspirin almost doubled the risk of dangerous internal bleeding, while having no effect on heart attacks or strokes.
The results will add to the confusion around the drug.

Millions are prescribed lowdose aspirin after a heart attack or stroke and there is pressure for ‘blanket prescribing’ to all middle-aged people, with one report suggesting most healthy men over 48 and women over 57 would benefit.
But concern has been mounting over the ‘worried well’ who take it, often without being aware of side-effects that can include internal bleeding.
An analysis in The Lancet medical journal earlier this year found that healthy people who took aspirin reduced their risk of heart attack or stroke – already small – by some 12 per cent.

But the risk of suffering bleeding increased by around a third.
In the latest study, by researchers at Edinburgh University, 3,350 middle-aged men and women were given either low-dose aspirin or a placebo (dummy pill) each day.
They were selected after tests of blood pressure in their ankles suggested the arteries in their legs were furred up.
But they had no symptoms of heart disease and had not suffered a heart attack.
Over eight years, they suffered 357 cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes.
There was no difference between the two groups in the rate of problems, but people taking aspirin were at a far higher risk of bleeding in the brain or stomach.

In all, 34 people on aspirin, two per cent of the group, had a major haemorrhage needing hospital treatment, compared with 20 (1.2 per cent) taking the placebo.

A further 14 aspirin takers developed a stomach ulcer, compared with eight on placebos.
The findings support those of other trials which have suggested that aspirin’s side- effects mean there is no net benefit for healthy people taking it.

The Edinburgh University report was presented yesterday at a meeting in Barcelona of the European Society of Cardiology, attended by more than 30,000 leading heart specialists.

Professor Gerry Fowkes, from the Wolfson Unit for Prevention of Peripheral Diseases in Edinburgh, who jointly led the study, said another six trials showed the same findings.

He said: ‘They have shown minor reductions in future cardiovascular events, but this has to be weighed up against an increase in bleeding, some of which can be serious and lead to death.
‘Our research suggests aspirin should not be prescribed to the general population.’
Millions of heart patients and diabetics are currently prescribed aspirin, in line with medical guidelines, because their doctors consider they are at high risk of heart attack.

In secondary prevention studies – where patients were taking aspirin to prevent a repeat attack – the drug has reduced the chances of serious vascular events by about a fifth, and this benefit clearly outweighed the small risk of bleeding.
Aspirin is also an ingredient of the ‘Polypill’, a multi-drug tablet being developed to cut the toll of heart attacks.

Nick Henderson, executive director of the Aspirin Foundation, said last night: ‘Aspirin used to prevent cardiovascular events is appropriate-only where individual patients are considered by their doctor to be a special risk from particular factors such as obesity, stress and family history.

‘The Aspirin Foundation continues to counsel individuals always to seek advice before embarking on a self-medication regime with aspirin for whatever reason.’

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, which helped fund the Edinburgh study, said thousands of ‘worried well’ people took aspirin as an insurance policy against heart attacks without understanding that they could be harmed.

He said the benefit of aspirin use for secondary prevention was wellestablished.
But he added: ‘Primary prevention patients who do not have cardiovascular disease will probably get a reduction in the small risk they have of a heart attack, but they will face a worse risk of harm from haemorrhage and potentially fatal haemorrhage.

‘Because it’s been around a long time people think “it must be safe and it can’t do me any harm”.
‘They are taking it “just in case” but it’s much more dangerous than some other drugs which people get concerned about, like statins.’

Source: Mail Online. Aug.31,2009

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News on Health & Science

Nanoparticle May Cause Lung Cancer

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The fledgling science of nanotechnology promises huge advances in science and medicine, but there are concerns about its safety.

In particular, the microscopic particles it employs have been shown to have toxic effects on the lungs.

The research, by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, appears in the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology.

However, experts said it was not possible to draw general conclusions about all nanoparticles from a study focusing on one specific type.

Nanotechnology involves the modification of atoms and molecules to create new materials which may have unusual physical, chemical, and biological properties.

“This provides us with a promising lead for developing strategies to prevent lung damage caused by nanoparticles” says Chengyu Jiang, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences

In medicine alone it is hoped it could be used to develop more effective and better targeted drugs, and new ways to detect and treat disease.

The market is potentially huge, but safety concerns threaten to hold progress back.

Research has shown that most nanoparticles migrate to the lungs, but there is also concern about potential damage to other organs.

The latest research focused on a class of nanoparticles being widely developed in medicine – polyamidoamine dendrimers (PAMAMs).

In tests on cells in the lab, the researchers found the particles cause lung damage by triggering a type of programmed cell death known as autophagic cell death.

Autophagy plays a normal part in cell growth and renewal, but over-activity can lead to unwanted cell death.

However, the researchers also found autophagy could be blocked by using a drug inhibitor.

The findings were confirmed in tests on mice. Animals exposed to PAMAMs showed higher levels of lung inflammation, and higher death rates.

But those that were first injected with the inhibitor were less badly affected.

New strategies
Lead researcher Dr Chengyu Jiang said: “This provides us with a promising lead for developing strategies to prevent lung damage caused by nanoparticles.

Nanomedicine holds extraordinary promise, particularly for diseases such as cancer and viral infections.

“But safety concerns have recently attracted great attention and with the technology evolving rapidly, we need to start finding ways now to protect workers and consumers from any toxic effects that might come with it.”

“The idea is that, to increase the safety of nanomedicine, compounds could be developed that could either be incorporated into the nano product to protect against lung damage, or patients could be given pills to counteract the effects.”

Dr Laura Bell, of the charity Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s great to see new advances being made to ensure the safety of nanomedicine but this research is still at an early stage and has yet to be tested in people.

“Nanotechnology is an expanding area of research with exciting potential and establishing its safety is essential if we are to realise its potential to treat people with cancer.”

It is not clear at this stage whether other types of nanoparticles cause lung damage via the same route.

Professor Ken Donaldson, an expert in respiratory toxicology at the University of Edinburgh, said PAMAMs were highly specialised, and it would be wrong to draw any general conclusions about nanoparticles in general from the study.

Professor Donaldson said PAMAMs were made by the drug industry in tiny amounts, while other nanoparticles were made in much bigger quantities, and potentially posed much more of a risk of accidental exposure.

He said: “The problem is that all nanoparticles are lumped together as if they are one thing and they most certainly are not.”

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BBC NEWS:11Th. June,’09

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