The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 945: Vitamin Pills and Aspirin for Prevention: A Smart Move or a Waste of Money?

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Although many Americans take vitamin pills and aspirin to stay healthy, some public health authorities say the risks outweigh the benefits. We don't agree.
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Over the last several months a number of studies have found that multivitamins are not an effective way to prevent Alzheimer’s or heart disease. But are they really a waste of money, as one editorial suggests? We talk with Dr. Tieraona Low Dog about the evidence base for vitamin use.

Similar doubts have now been raised about aspirin. The FDA has recently warned that people who have never had a heart attack should not take low-dose aspirin on a regular basis. Data show that aspirin can reduce the likelihood of repeat heart attacks, but the agency warns that the risks of aspirin are too high to justify taking it for primary prevention. That means using aspirin in the hope of preventing an initial heart attack. How can you balance benefits against risks?

Should you ever take vitamin pills and aspirin?

This Week’s Guest:

Tieraona Low Dog, MD, is Director of Fellowship for the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona. She has served as Chair of the United States Pharmacopeia Dietary Supplements–Botanicals Expert Committee. Her new book is Healthy at Home: Get Well and Stay Well without Prescriptions, from National Geographic. Her website is www.drlowdog.com

 

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