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December 2022
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Aspirin News You’ll Want to Hear

Study:  Aspirin Supplementation May Increase Risk of Hearing Loss in Men

Taking aspirin regularly is not without it's risks. For men, hearing loss is one of them.

Every once in a while I’m asked about aspirin and whether or not I’m on board with people taking them as a supplement.

“Hear’s” my answer: I’m against it.  And “hear’s” one of the reasons why:  It can significantly increase a man’s risk for hearing loss.

According to a study recently published in the American Journal of Medicine, aspirin supplementation is highly associated with eventual hearing loss among young and middle-aged men that supplemented with aspirin regularly over 18 years.

Researchers determined this after culling data from a much larger study that included 26,000 men.  Their health was followed for 18 years, two years at a time.  Among the bevy of health statistics tracked was whether they had any sensory loss over those 18 years.

Through the use of questionnaires that tracked the men’s use of certain supplements and medications, they found a linkage between the regular use of aspirin and hearing loss.

For instance, among younger men and 50-year-old men who regularly used aspirin, they were 33 percent more likely to have hearing loss than their contemporaries who rarely used aspirin.

But the likelihood of hearing loss was not relegated to those supplementing with aspirin.  For example, among men who used NSAIDs regularly, they were 61 percent more likely to have hearing problems if in their younger years and 33 percent more likely to have hearing problems if they were in their 50s.  And among regular users of acetaminophen, they were 99 percent more likely to have hearing problems than their contemporaries (for those younger than 50; 38 percent more likely for 50-year-old men).

Among the five senses, hearing loss is the sense that’s most frequently lost or impaired in the U.S.

It’s unclear what the age connection is to hearing loss development and analgesic supplementation, but given the pervasiveness of analgesic use, the results alone are worthy of worry.

The study was written and conducted by researchers from a veritable who’s who of hospitals and medical centers, including Harvard University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Now, let me just state for the record that I know many doctors recommend their patients take aspirin regularly.  Aspirin has a blood-thinning effect, so for people who are at serious risk for a heart attack or stroke, this may be their best option.

But that’s not to suggest I approve of taking aspirin regularly.  On the contrary, aspirin supplementation has more negatives than positives.

For starters, because aspirin has a blood-thinning effect, it shouldn’t be taken cavalierly or by just anyone.  The only people that should consider taking it are those people who are in serious jeopardy for a heart attack.  But for anyone else—especially those who have a bleeding disorder, asthma, or stomach ulcers—aspirin should not be taken regularly.

This is especially important if you take any natural health supplements like primrose oil, ginkgo biloba, fish oil, or willow bark.  These dietary supplements (and several others) increase the risk of excessive bleeding.

Another reason why I’m generally against aspirin supplementation is because once you stop taking it, you increase your risk for heart attack.  The longer it’s taken, the more you’re blood acclimates to aspirin’s blood-thinning effect.  So should you stop taking it, your blood may clot when it doesn’t need to.

For these and many other reasons, I’m against aspirin supplementation.  If you’re at imminent risk for a heart attack or stroke (or if you’re specifically told to take it every day by your primary care physician), then that’s another story.  But if you’re otherwise healthy, put the aspirin aside.


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