Question

Aspirin

Should I take aspirin or ibuprofen?

A Answers (1)

  • AMichael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    Most of us have a favorite painkiller, and there can be a lot of brand loyalty among consumers. Since both aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are advantageous, does it matter which NSAID you take? Should you take the same one you take for pain, or should you switch to aspirin for preventing heart disease. I'd suggest you switch to aspirin, since we know much more about it than the other NSAIDs, particularly about how safe it is. And aspirin has clearly been shown to have a significant age-reducing effect.

    Aspirin was the first NSAID we ever had; it is the prototype. Because some people couldn't or didn't want to take aspirin, chemists invented drugs that were similar to aspirin. The best known is ibuprofen, but there are many others. All of these drugs reduce pain and swelling, but have different side effects and benefits. For example, for many people ibuprofen provides better pain relief than aspirin does. However, when it comes to deactivating the enzyme system that causes blood platelets to stick together, aspirin is the most effective drug to take. The reason is that aspirin deactivates the system for the life of the platelet, whereas most other NSAIDs produce only a temporary effect. The effectiveness of aspirin and some other NSAIDS in reducing the risk of cancer seems to be the same, however. We think some "designer aspirin" -- the so-called "COX-2 inhibitors" (cyclooxygenase-2) -- have the promise of also reducing cancer, with fewer side effects. So far, the antiaging benefits haven't been as substantial as those for aspirin. Never take aspirin and other NSAIDS together, except under supervision of a doctor. Remember to talk to your doctor before starting treatment with aspirin or any other NSAID.
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