Health A to Z

Men's Health: Aspirin may protect against asthma

But doctors need more evidence before recommending the drug for this purpose

Recent research suggests a new role for Aspirin: It may reduce the risk that healthy adults will develop asthma.

This finding was uncovered from the Physicians’ Health Study, which followed more than 22,000 male doctors ages 40 to 84 years to determine Aspirin’s effects on heart disease.

In conducting this analysis, researchers noted that participants who took Aspirin were 22 per cent less likely to report asthma than those who did not take it. The men had been randomly assigned to take either 325 milligrams of Aspirin or 50 milligrams of beta carotene on alternate days.

Though this study was not originally designed to look at Aspirin and asthma directly, co-author Dr. Tobias Kurth of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston says an association between the two has been explored in previous studies. One possible explanation for the link is that Aspirin may decrease the body’s inflammatory response, and asthma involves inflammation of the breathing passages.

Kurth points out the study involved relatively healthy men, so it would be difficult to draw conclusions that could apply to the general population. And the situation is complicated by the fact some asthmatics can’t tolerate Aspirin. “We would like to see more studies confirming or (disproving) our finding before any recommendations to patients or practitioners should be given.”