New research has revealed that a daily aspirin pill can reduce the risk of developing diabetes in old age.
The study involved 16,209 healthy adults aged 65 and above in Australia and the US, with half of them taking a daily low dose of 100mg aspirin and the other half receiving a placebo pill.
Over a five-year follow-up period, the group taking aspirin had a 15% lower likelihood of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and their average blood sugar levels were lower, The Times reported.
Aspirin, a commonly used anti-inflammatory drug for pain relief, has previously shown benefits in reducing the risk of certain cancers and preventing recurrent strokes and heart attacks.
However, due to potential side effects like brain bleeds and stomach ulcers, it has not been widely recommended as a preventive measure for healthy adults.
Experts previously had uncertainty about the link between aspirin and diabetes, but this new study suggests that aspirin “has the potential to prevent type 2 diabetes.”
In the UK, nearly five million people have type 2 diabetes, primarily caused by poor diet and obesity, making preventive strategies crucial.
Professor Sophia Zoungas, the lead author of the study from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, emphasised the need for further research into the potential of anti-inflammatory agents like aspirin in preventing type 2 diabetes.
However, she noted that these findings do not change the current clinical advice regarding aspirin use in older individuals.
Low-dose daily aspirin is known to help thin the blood, reducing the risk of heart attacks caused by blood clots.
The NHS currently recommends 75mg of aspirin for people at high risk of heart attacks and strokes, such as those with heart disease or those who have had a heart attack.
This study is scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Hamburg in October. It is a follow-up to the Aspree trial conducted in 2018, which investigated whether daily aspirin could extend the life expectancy of the elderly.
The earlier trial did not significantly reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke in otherwise healthy adults and was associated with an increased risk of serious bleeding.
Dr Faye Riley, the research communications manager at Diabetes UK, cautioned that while the research shows a small decrease in the risk of type 2 diabetes in older people taking a daily low-dose aspirin, the role of aspirin in type 2 diabetes prevention remains unclear and may have unwanted side effects.
She stressed the importance of consulting a doctor before considering daily aspirin use, particularly because it can increase the risk of serious bleeding in people with diabetes and others. Dr Riley added that the best strategies to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes include weight management, a balanced diet, and increased physical activity.