Yesterday, I wrote of excess arachidonic acid’s (AA) negative impact on our bodies: “Since AA is what our body uses to produce inflammatory compounds, like prostaglandins, an excessive AA level may lead to some truly devastating consequences.”
Like AA, prostaglandins are necessary for the healthy inflammation that helps us fight infection. Producing too much, however, can cause chronic pain, arthritis, and cancer.
So nobody was surprised when, in 1982, British pharmacologist John Vane received the 1982 Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine. Eleven years earlier, he’d discovered that aspirin pills (synthetic salicylic acid) inhibit prostaglandin synthesis. A knighthood followed in 1984.
Add Sir John’s discovery to aspirin’s impressive list of Wonder-Drug properties: Decreasing pain and lowering the risk of heart attacks, strokes, cancer and (possibly) dementia.
Many elderly people take a low-dose aspirin pill every day for these benefits. Doing so long term, however, is known to cause stomach and intestinal-lining damage and increase the chance of small-intestine or brain bleeds.
“Well, if this aspirin phytonutrient [salicylic acid] is made by plants, we might expect plant-eaters to have higher levels. And, indeed… Some vegetarians had the same level in their blood as people actually taking aspirin pills!”
Did they also experience the gut-devastating side effects?
NO! It turns out, “… vegetarians appear to have a significantly lower risk of ulcers…Because in plants, the salicylic acid may come naturally pre-packaged with gut-protective nutrients…”
Dr. Greger’s conclusion? People who’ve had heart attacks should follow their doctor’s advice about taking aspirin pills.
As for the rest of us? He thinks “… everyone should take aspirin but — in produce, not pill form.”
It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? Eating healthy is far smarter than taking aspirin, especially when healthy foods are known to achieve the same or better benefits.