To Your Health: Upcoming Wellness Conference + Aspirin

To Your Health: Upcoming Wellness Conference + Aspirin

Dr. Alan Safdi is a gastroenterologist with a talent for delivering evidence-based medical findings for healthy living in easily digestible sound bytes. Our relationship with Safdi began several years ago when we attended a Wellness Conference at The Peaks Resort & Spa. We next heard him speak again at Telluride First Foundation’s inaugural Integrative Wellness Conference, at the Telluride Conference Center in Mountain Village. where the audience got enough of a taste of his encyclopedic knowledge of mind-body wellness and preventative medicine to want more.

And more is coming…

Wednesday March 22 through Friday, March 24, 2017, Dr. Alan Safdi returns to Telluride to speak at a three-day, evidence-based conference entitled “Wellness Symposium & GI Update 2017. The intensive takes place at Telski’s Peaks Resort & Spa. The subjects: longevity, wellness, micro-nutrients, common medical disorders. Nutritional science will be explored in depth, which means without testimonials, only evidence-based medical science.

Safdi’s talks are open to medical professionals* as well as to the general public.

For further information and to register by email, go to asafdi@ohiogi or call (24 hours) 888-696-6734. Mention “Wellness Symposium” and receive a 20% discount.

Dr Alan Safid is a regular contributor to Telluride Inside… and Out. His column is entitled “To Your Health.” (Search under the column name or Safdi’s name on our home page to find years of eye-opening posts.) 

In the run-up to the conference, this week Dr. Safdi talks about aspirin. His recommendations are based on data from the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association, which had based its conclusions on a cohort. Currently only 40 percent of Americans are taking aspirin when, according to the latest research, many more should.


It would seem very easy to write a post about aspirin, because aspirin is one of the oldest remedies known to mankind. But the truth is aspirin is very much a two-edged sword with, yes, significant benefits, but also potential risks. Don’t just take aspirin; discuss aspirin therapy with a trusted healthcare provider.

Aspirin in its current form has been available for over 160 years, but for over 2000 years, a willow tree leaf – which has salicylic acid, the  active metabolite of aspirin – has been used medicinally for pain and to reduce fever.

Aspirin is part of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory class of drugs called NSAID’s. In October 2015, I wrote a post about all the potential side effects of NSAID’s. (Here is the link to that blog.) By way of review, a few of those ill effects could include stomach ulcers, stomach pain, vomiting, coagulation disorder with bleeding, hypersensitivity, bronchospasm, asthma, kidney disease, increased liver function tests, and skin rashes. These are not all of the side effects, just an abbreviated list.

Now on to some of the current benefits and fascinating new information about aspirin.

The traditional use of aspirin for many years was relief of pain such as muscle aches, menstrual cramps, toothache, fever, joint, arthritis, and headache. Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death and disability across the world; research has shown that a small daily dose of aspirin can reduce the occurrence of both diseases by about 20–30%.

According to researchers, a daily aspirin regimen for older patients shows multiple health benefits and a reduction in health care spending.

According to a new USC study. for older Americans with a high risk of heart disease, taking low–dose aspirin every day could reduce their risk of a heart attack, prevent some cancers and cancer death, extend their lives, and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients over the course of 20 years. However, the FDA is concerned that some patients, particularly those 60+, face an increased risk of stroke and bleeding – both gastrointestinal and brain – if aspirin is taken daily.

What is the story on aspirin and cancer?

A study published in 2010-2016 concluded that aspirin may help prevent incident breast, colon, pancreatic, and ovarian cancer in elderly women. In men with prostate cancer, regular aspirin use is associated with a slower rate of disease progression and a reduced risk of dying from the disease. An aspiring protocol will never prevent all cancers, but may lower the incidence. Still, there are increasing risks with this  form of therapy as we age.

“The Journal of Clinical Oncology,” (May 2016), concluded that the use of aspirin after a diagnosis of colon cancer is associated with improved survival.

All these findings are simply amazing for such an old medication whose other potential benefits have not been fully explored.

What about aspirin’s use as the primary form of prevention of colon cancer, especially in higher risk individuals with a family history, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, smokers, prior history of polyps, or poor dietary habits?

The simple message for patients between 50 – 59 who meet the criteria is this: On average the benefit of taking daily low-dose aspirin for prevention of colon cancer exceeds the risks and is recommended by most doctors.

For men and women between the ages of 60 – 69, the use of daily low-dose aspirin for prevention of colon and rectal cancer may be considered. However, this is a Grade C recommendation, which means that the benefit versus harms ratio is much smaller and strongly suggests a discussion between patients and physicians. The reason for the difference is that risk of GI hemorrhage is higher for this age group and the benefit of aspirin for CRC prevention is smaller than for 50 –59-year-olds.

One of the newest areas of research around aspirin is pancreatic cancer.

New evidence suggests that taking aspirin regularly—at least once a week for three months or more—may cut the risk of pancreatic cancer by nearly half. As part of a joint research effort by investigators in the United States and China, newly diagnosed cases of pancreatic cancer in Shanghai were flagged over a four-year period. A total of 761 patients were identified between December 2006 and January 2011 and matched with 794 controls. The researchers determined that regular aspirin use reduced risk of pancreatic cancer by 46%.  Further studies are needed to validate this information, but the early research is very intriguing. Pancreatic cancer is extremely difficult to diagnose in the early stages and has a very high mortality rate if diagnosed in the late stages.

What about aspirin and heart disease?

There is still significant debate about the appropriate criteria, but the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force updated its recommendation: men and women 50 – 59 years old with 10 percent or greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease over 10 years and no increased risk for bleeding, should receive daily low-dose aspirin. This is a Grade B recommendation, which means there is moderate to high certainty that the benefits outweigh any potential harm.

Adults 60–69 years old, who face a greater-than-10-percent risk of developing heart disease and a risk of bleeding, should decide individually whether to take aspirin everyday. Anyone in that age bracket who is expected to live another 10 years is more likely to benefit from aspirin intake.

The downside to using aspiring as a preventive measure against many diseases and conditions of aging is more gastrointestinal bleeds and other side effects with regular intake.  Therefore a conversation with a heathcare provider is in order to discuss the pros and cons as they relate specifcally to your medical profile.

More about Dr. Alan Safdi:

Dr. Alan Safdi
Dr. Alan Safdi

Dr. Alan Safdi is a speaker, contributor, and serves on the advisory board of the Telluride First Foundation.

He is board certified in Internal Medicine and in Gastroenterology and a Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology. A proven leader in the healthcare arena, Safdi has been featured on the national program “Medical Crossfire” and authored or co-authored numerous medical articles and abstracts. He has been an investigator in over 581 studies and is President of both the Consultants For Clinical Research and the Ohio Gastroenterology and Liver Institute.

Dr. Safdi has been involved in grant-based and clinical research for about 35 years and is passionate about disease prevention and wellness, not just fixing what has gone wrong. He is an international lecturer on the subjects of wellness, nutrition, and gastroenterology.


*For medical professionals only, the conference offers 12 Hours CME Category 1 and 12 Hours AAFP Prescribed. This activity is certified by the American Academy of Family Physicians for up to 24 AAFP Prescribed hours. AAFP Prescribed credit is accepted as equivalent to AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ toward the AMA Physician’s Recognition Award (PRA).

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