Q. My doctor said that I should be taking an aspirin every day, but my pharmacist said that aspirin doesn’t protect women the way it does men. Who’s right and what’s the best dose?
A. A new study of almost 80,000 women who were followed for more than 20 years suggests that women do indeed benefit from aspirin (Archives of Internal Medicine, March 26, 2007). The nurses who participated had a lower likelihood of dying of a heart attack if they took aspirin regularly for at least five years. After ten years, they were also less likely to develop cancer.
Doses ranged anywhere from one to 14 standard aspirin tablets a week. Some experts have suggested that the optimal dose to protect against heart attacks is around 160 mg daily—half a regular tablet. No one should take aspirin daily without medical supervision, since it can damage the digestive tract and interact with other medications.