People's Pharmacy



I keep reading about taking aspirin on a daily basis to cut my risk of a heart attack. Now the experts are saying this daily dose of aspirin also will help cut my chance of developing breast cancer.

How much aspirin does it take to do this?

The heart-protective effects of aspirin were discovered in the 1950s. Yet, even after all this time, there is controversy over the proper dose.

James Dalen, a physician, recently reviewed the most important clinical trials involving aspirin. He concluded that 160 milligrams (half a regular tablet or two 81 mg aspirins) is the most appropriate daily dose for preventing heart attacks and strokes (American Journal of Medicine, March 2006). The optimal dose for preventing cancer has not yet been determined.

Your doctor should supervise any long-term aspirin regimen.

My doctor told me to take half a tablet of Lipitor a day. In a magazine ad, it said not to cut tablets, but didn't say why. Do you know why Lipitor shouldn't be broken?

Some pills have coatings or time-release formulations that would make splitting them dangerous. Cutting such a tablet would make its absorption unpredictable.

This is not the case with Lipitor, however. Researchers at Veterans Affairs and Kaiser Permanente in California determined that splitting atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Mevacor) and simvastatin (Zocor) was an effective way to lower costs without compromising cholesterol control. The study was published in The Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy (Novem- ber/December 2002).

My friends all swear by your recipe for golden raisins soaked in gin to relieve arthritis pain. The problem is that I am morally opposed to alcohol in any form. Even though I realize the gin evaporates, I cannot buy gin in the first place.

There are lots of alternatives to gin-soaked raisins. Remember, though, that such home remedies have not been tested in any scientific manner.

Many readers maintain that drinking a tablespoon of Certo (plant pectin used for making jam) mixed in 8 ounces of grape juice can relieve joint pain. Others tell us that a combination of honey, vinegar, grape juice and apple juice is helpful. The Indian spice turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties. Some people find that taking it eases their stiffness.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site:

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