Small miracle of ancient times lives on in modern society

Published 2:36 pm Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas. As well all know, Christmas celebrates the miracle of the birth of the baby Jesus just over 2,000 years ago, and that celebration goes on, almost worldwide, even today. Did you know there were other miracle births that preceded the birth of Jesus by about 400 years?
It’s true. Sadly, a majority of Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus and praise his name only on holidays and the occasional Sunday, but without even thinking much about it, millions praise the name of this other miracle every day.
Hippocrates, who is known as the father of modern medicine lived sometime between 460 B.C. and 377 B.C.
Among many of the records found among Hippocrates’ teachings and records was the formula for a powder made from the bark and leaves of the willow tree, which when given to ailing patients, seemed to relieve aches and pains, heal headaches and reduce fevers – albeit with some serious stomach upset and other less than wonderful side effects.
And it wasn’t until almost 2,200 years later, in 1829, that scientists discovered it was the compound called salicin in the willow plants that provided people with the miraculous pain relief, and another 24-years later salicin was mixed with other elements, buffered if you will, so while providing pain relief didn’t also cause abdominal distress.
Today, that 2500 year-old drug is once again causing a stir among scientists, as more and more benefits of its use are being discovered and confirmed. What is this ancient miracle drug you ask?
Why it’s aspirin!
British researchers in a recent article published in The Lancet, revealed that their studies proved that a low-dose aspirin, similar to a baby aspirin, taken daily for five years or more reduces the risk of dying of cancer by 21 percent, and actually increases the benefits to users over time. Those results came from eight different clinical studies involving more than 25,000 participants who had been on aspirin therapy for at least four years.
And the news of this miracle drug gets even better. Those same researchers found that death from many other causes, not just cancer, was reduced by 10 percent among users of a single baby aspirin daily.
This research was initially carried out to test aspirin’s effectiveness in the prevention of vascular diseases. But as the trials went on, the researchers discovered daily aspirin treatment reduced the risk of death of several common cancers both during and after the research trials.
While earlier studies using aspirin suggested there might be some benefit against colon cancer, this study showed that low-dose daily aspirin therapy also seems to protect people from other cancers such as lung, brain, esophageal, gastrointestinal and pancreatic cancers.
What the researchers concluded was that the benefits of a daily aspirin therapy routine for people 45 years of age and older was more beneficial and outweighed any risks of side-effects associated with aspirin. And it’s a well-known fact that low-dose long-term daily aspirin therapy can protect us from cardiovascular events and even strokes.
Here are some of findings that were reported as a beneficial result of long-term daily aspirin therapy:
? Reduce 20-year prostate cancer risk by 10 percent
? Reduce lung cancer risk by 30 percent
? Reduce bowel cancer risk by 40 percent
? Reduce esophageal/throat cancer risk by 60 percent
So, during this time of religious celebration among Christians, we should also be thankful for the discovery of another miracle that if used as suggested in a daily program, inexpensive, unassuming and unheralded aspirin could potentially save thousands of lives of potential cancer victims in the years ahead.
However, there were a few other words of advice indicating that aspirin alone is not the magic bullet needed to reduce the risks of cancer.
Lifestyle measures including exercise and weight control, not smoking or drinking to excess and eating a healthy diet all have an important part to play. And one last word of caution. Please see your doctor before beginning an aspirin therapy program on your own.
Dosages suggested or required may be different, and potential side effect and symptoms like rectal bleeding especially if associated with tummy pain, change in bowel habit or weight loss are signs of serious problems and require immediate medical intervention.
So, there you have it.
My Christmas present to you; a possible prescription to provide low-cost maintenance of your health. Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men, a daily baby aspirin for all and to all a good night.

Ron Kauffman is a Geriatric Care Manager and Certified Senior Advisor.
He is the author of Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease, available at, where you can also listen to his weekly Podcasts. He can be reached at 561-818-0039 or by email at

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