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Should I take aspirin?

Michael Mosley talks to two experts with very different opinions on whether healthy people, who haven’t had a heart attack, should be taking a daily 75mg dose of aspirin.

Professor Peter Elwood of Cardiff University is a passionate advocate of the preventative powers of daily aspirin whilst Professor Peter Sever of Imperial College London puts the case against healthy people taking daily doses of aspirin.

Both agree that 75mg of aspirin taken daily can be useful for those who have already had a heart attack in helping prevent another, and that a small daily dose can also have a protective effect against bowel cancers and possibly other cancers as well.

However, they disagree on the importance of extra risk that aspirin poses. It can cause bleeding into the stomach, which can be serious and require hospitalisation, and the difficulty is in balancing this risk against the potential benefits in each individual case.

It is important NOT to self-medicate with aspirin without discussing it with your doctor, and it is also important NOT to take more than the 75mg dose daily.

Aspirin for painkilling is typically sold in 300mg pills, so a daily dose would be just a quarter of one of these. Increasing the dose increases the risk of bleeding in the stomach.

Clips: Should we all take daily asprin?