Aspirin and Asthma: Surprising Benefits

When you have a headache, you probably reach for a bottle of aspirin. But did you know that the benefits of aspirin may extend beyond your head to also protect your lung capacity? Some researchers now believe that taking a low dose of aspirin on a regular basis can actually lower your risk of being diagnosed with adult onset of asthma.

The Aspirin and Asthma Link

A study that was run by scientists from Brigham and Women's Hospital's Division of Aging in Boston, along with researchers from other nationwide institutions, took a closer look at what happens when people use aspirin regularly. The participants of the study included more than 22,000 healthy male physicians ranging in age from 40 to 84 years old. Some of the participants were given aspirin every other day, while others were given a placebo.

The physicians self-recorded any asthma symptoms in a questionnaire that they were given at select intervals throughout the study period.

Aspirin and Asthma: A Good Mix

There was a significant difference in the onset of asthma between the aspirin and placebo group. In fact, those taking aspirin who had no prior breathing problems had a 22 percent lower risk of presenting with new asthma symptoms than the counterparts taking the placebo. Further, younger men seem to get the greatest benefit from taking aspirin.

The study findings on aspirin and asthma, which were included in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, are consistent with the results of a similar study performed on women that also involved Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers. The women's study was reported in the Thorax Journal in March of 2008 and reveals that women seemed to have a 10 percent lower risk for adult onset asthma when taking aspirin therapy regularly.

New Thoughts on Aspirin and Asthma

It's worth noting that these the results of these studies can be especially important since in the past it was thought that aspirin actually contributed to asthma, at least among some patients.  That being said, though, researchers point out that for people with aspirin sensitivity, using aspirin could indeed increase asthma symptoms, rather than preventing the onset of this condition.

A Warning about Aspirin and Asthma

Researchers also stress the fact that the aspirin and asthma benefits don't work in people who already have asthma. They only seem to help head off the onset of the condition in people who have not ever had it. This is an essential distinction.

What You Can Do

If you wonder what this means to you, first of all, if you already have asthma, remember that taking aspirin isn't going to prevent your symptoms. Therefore, it's important to follow your asthma management plan and to use control medications and fast-acting relief inhaler as directed by your doctor.

But if you've never been diagnosed with asthma yet have any risk factors for it, it's worth taking your doctor about this study and asking whether taking aspirin regularly can be a good preventative step.


American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

The Thorax Journal