Aspirin Reduces the Risk of Diabetes

You may already know that doctors recommend aspirin therapy to lower your risk of cardiovascular problems if you have diabetes. But did you know that aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid or ASA) may also lower your risk of developing diabetes? If you are in a high risk group - for instance, if you're obese or overweight, or you've been diagnosed with prediabetes - results of a new study will interest you.

In a study published in the American Journal of Medicine (AJM), researchers analyzed data from the Physician's Health Study, which has accumulated 22 years of follow-up data, including five years of randomized data, from 22,071 apparently healthy men.

Study participants provided self reports of history of diabetes, aspirin use, and various lifestyle factors at the beginning of the study, and in yearly follow-up questionnaires. A total of 1719 cases of diabetes were reported during follow-up. Men who reported taking any aspirin were 14 percent less likely to develop diabetes, compared with those who did not take the drug.

According to the researchers, their data suggest a small but not significant decrease in the risk of diabetes during five years of randomized comparison of 325 mg of aspirin every other day. However, this trend held up during 22 years of follow-up, indicating that using aspirin is associated with a significant, approximately 14 percent decrease, in the risk of diabetes. They conclude that decreased risk of type 2 diabetes may be added to the list of the clinical benefits of ASA, although more studies may be needed.

How to Take Aspirin Safely to Prevent Diabetes

As research into aspirin use and diabetes prevention is in its infancy, there is no formal recommendation for the amount of the drug. In the AJM study, the amount of ASA linked to a lower risk of diabetes is 325 mg daily. However, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association suggest taking 81 mg to 325 mg of aspirin a day if you're using it for preventative therapy. You can buy low-dose aspirin in most pharmacies. Some people find that enteric-coated aspirin is less likely to cause stomach problems.

Risks of Taking Aspirin for Diabetes

Recently, some researchers and doctors have questioned the benefits of taking ASA for prevention, especially if you are in good health. If you have any of the following conditions, you should not take aspirin therapy to prevent diabetes:

  • A bleeding or clotting disorder
  • A recent bout of gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Aspirin allergy
  • Asthma
  • Heart failure
  • Stomach ulcers

Although long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may increase the risk of chronic kidney disease, and may affect blood pressure control if you're hypertensive, low-dose aspirin therapy does not seem to pose these risks.

You also shouldn't take aspirin if you're using blood thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin®), or if you're taking ibuprofen. If you're taking any other drugs, let your physician know so you can avoid any harmful interactions. Also, do not take aspirin if you have a liver problem, or if you're under 21 years of age as it increases your risk of Reye's syndrome.

Some people take willow bark, a herbal pain reliever that contains salicin, because it acts similarly to aspirin; however, you shouldn't combine the two. (If you already have diabetes, you should not take willow bark.)

Finally, abruptly stopping aspirin therapy may increase your risk of cardiovascular problems or cause blood clots to form. If you start low-dose aspirin therapy to prevent diabetes, speak to your doctor if you play to stop it any time in the future.

Study References

Journal Name: American Journal of Medicine, Vol. 122, Issue 4, pp. 374-379

Study Date: April 2009

Study Name: Aspirin Use and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Apparently Healthy Men


Authors: Yasuaki Hayashino, Charles H. Hennekens, Tobias Kurth


Journal Name: Diabetes Care Vol. 27  No. suppl 1  s72-s73

Study Date: January 2004  

Study Name: Aspirin Therapy in Diabetes


Authors: American Diabetes Association