Aspirin prevents asthma in adults

Researchers at the Division of Aging at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts recently reported that aspirin, known to prevent heart attacks, might also help prevent adults developing asthma based on a large, placebo-controlled study of 22,071 healthy males1.

The study, of male doctors aged 40 years to 84 years, and which lasted five years showed that 113 of 11,037 persons that took aspirin, developed asthma, versus 145 that took placebo, the risk of developing the disease reduced by 22% taking a low dose of aspirin on alternate days.

The researchers noted that participants in the study were able to tolerate aspirin, with no side effects, and that the results, which are preliminary, do not mean that aspirin improves asthma symptoms in individuals that have the disease, which it might even worsen. They cautioned that it is premature to recommend the use of aspirin to prevent late-onset asthma, and the need for more research.

Asthma often occurs in childhood, but it is important to know that we should avoid giving children aspirin due to the risk of developing the rare but often fatal, Reye’s syndrome. We should also note that between 5% and 10% of adults are at risk of developing adult-onset asthma, and might benefit from preventive aspirin use.


1. R. Graham Barr, Tobias Kurth, Meir J. Stampfer, Julie E. Buring, Charles H. Hennekens, and J. Michael Gaziano, Aspirin and Decreased Adult-Onset Asthma: Randomized Comparisons from the Physicians’ Health Study, Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 2007; 175: 120-125. First published online October 26 2006