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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
June 20, 2012     Feather River Bulletin
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June 20, 2012

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8B Wednesday, June 20, 2012 Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter , [spirin has been easing p,00lin si;00ce the fifth century I-IERE&apos; S TO YOUR HEALTH AURA WHITTAKER If you've ever had a headache, chances are you've taken aspirin or one of-its relatives to ease the pain. About 80 billion as- pirin tablets are taken per year for lieadaches and oth- er health problems. That's why aspirin is touted as the wonder drug that work wonders. Aspirin is a member of a family of chemicals called salicylates, which have been around for centuries. According to one Internet source, one of the first physi- cians, Hippocrates, wrote about a bitter powder extract- ed from willow bark that could ease aches and pains and reduce fevers as long ago as the fifth century B.C. After a bit of chemical de- tective work, scientists found out the part of the wil- low bark that is bitter and good for fever and pain is a chemical known as salicin. The human body converts (changes) this chemical into salicylic acid (SA). SA is thought to have been isolated by Johann Buchner ' in 1828. Work progressed on its isolation and purification through the i9th century. During the 1800s, SA was used in high doses to treat pain and swelling in dis- eases like arthritis, and to treat fever in illnesses like influenza (flu). However, it caused severe irritation in the mouth and stomach. Felix Hoffmann, a chemist at the Bayer chemical facto- ry, supposedly solved this problem by synthesizing a derivative called acetylsali- cylic acid (ASA) that was still effective but much less irritating. In 1899 Bayer be- gan selling aspirin, the trade name for ASA, which went on to become the biggest selling drug in the world. Aspirin had been known to work for more than 100 years. However, it was not until 1971 that a British pharmacologist; John Vane, discovered exactly how it works. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1982 for his research. Put simply, aspirin is an enzyme inhibitor. Aspirin , reduces the production of chemical substances called prostaglandins, which are produced in tissues through- out the body. They are part of the chemical messenger systems involved in feeling pain, fever, redness and swelling that can accompa- ny injuries. For example, take a look at how aspirin cures a ten- sion headache: A headache can occur when the muscles in your head begin to tight- en. What tells these muscles to tighten is prostaglandin. This chemical is produced in the body in response to stress. Aspirin stops the pro- duction of prostaglandin and therefore stops the headache and pain. Aspirin is also helpful for a lot of other ill- nesses because prostaglandin is involved in many different bodily func- tions. Aspirin also reduces pro- duction of substances in- volved in the early stages of our body's blood clotting mechanism. This is why doc- tors may prescribe aspirin, as part of a regimen, for ap- propriate individuals to re- duce the risk of recurrent heart attack or ischemic stroke. Today, doctors are looking at aspirin in the pr e- vention of bowel cancer. However, there is a small risk of developing serious side effects with aspirin. For people with a cardiovascular disease, studies have shown that the benefits of taking aspirin far outweigh the small risk of side effects. The risks of taking aspirin outweigh any benefits for people who do not currently have a cardiovascular disease. Those at risk of developing a cardiovascular disease can decrease their chances by living more healthfully and avoiding or reducing specific risk fac- tors such as high blood pres- sure, high cholesterol, smok- ing, lack of exercise, obesity, unhealthy'diet and exces- sive alcohol consumption. While most people do not have arly side effects with low-dose aspirin, there are serious possible side effects that can affect a small num- ber of people. Regardless of the risks, some doctors now recommend all people aged 45 to 50 consider taking a low daily dose of aspirin. This is because of the bene- fits in preventing cancer in addition to preventing blood clots, and an overall reduc- tion in dying at any given age by about 10 percent. It is useful to remember the overall effect of taking aspirin is based on statistics of a community of people. Aspirin is not a total preven- ter of blood clots or of can- cer. It simply reduces the risk, and that risk varies from person to person. It is impossible to say if an indi- vidual is likely to benefit -- just that the odds of develop- ing cancer go down. But, let's not forget as- pirin can cause major inter- nal bleeding that can result in death. If you're going to consider taking aspirin, you have to factor in potential harms to get a balanced view of potential effects. In every case, the benefit has to be balanced against the risk. And, as always, consult your doctor before begin- ning any new treatments. Certain over-the-counter medicines, including as- pirin, can conflict with other med.ications and even ors- en some health issues. Aura Whittaker has a Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology and more than 20years experi- ence in nutritional consulting and personal tra ining. Send comments to awhittaker@ or Lassen County Times, 100 Grand Ave., Susanville, CA 96130. BUSINESS & SERVICE DIRECTORY WALLPAPERING THE PAPER DOLLS It's not your mother's wallpaper anymore! The last several years have seen unique wallpapers come on the market, not only with style but texture. What a great way to transform a room from the ordinary to extraordinary. Maybe you need to get rid of paper that is outdated - I can do that too! 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