DEC 15, 2015 9:12 AM PST

Let

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Aspirin, formally known as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), is one of the cheapest and most widely used over-the-counter drugs. This humble drug is used to treat a variety of health conditions like the common fevers, headaches, and inflammation. There's also evidence that aspirin can prevent heart attacks, and even cancer. With such wondrous benefits, why aren't we drinking aspirin in the water as we do with fluoride?

The short answer has to do with side-effects. A daily dose of aspirin, even in its coated form, has the tendency to thin the stomach lining, increasing the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and stomach inflammation. Stomach bleeding is no trivial matter, as it kills more Americans each year than asthma or cervical cancer. While this may sound like a worthy gamble to prevent a heart attack, aspirin only reduces risk of heart attack for people who have already had one.

Far from being the miracle drug, aspirin doesn't cure everything and taking it could increase your risks for other health conditions. Perhaps instead of focusing on finding more ails that aspirin can treat, we should focus the attention on finding new ways to minimize the risks of this drug in our system.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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