Taking aspirin every day could lower the type 2 diabetes risk among people over 65, a study suggests.
It found a 15% reduction in the condition and a slower rate of increase in fasting plasma glucose (FPG) levels – the preferred method for diagnosing diabetes.
The results came after a 100mg daily dose was given to more than 8,000 people, while another 8,000 had a placebo.
All those involved were over 65, free from cardiovascular disease, dementia and physical disabilities.
The reduced risk was recorded after a follow-up period of more than four years.
Researchers said the findings merit further work but stressed they don’t change current guidelines on aspirin use for older people.
The NHS states that 75mg of aspirin every day can help prevent strokes and heart attacks in people at high risk of them, but should only be taken if a doctor recommends it.
The new research was led by Professor Zoungas of Monash University’s school of public health in Melbourne.
It was a follow-up of a 2018 study that found 100mg of aspirin was not beneficial for older people and led to an increased risk of haemorrhage.
Prof Zoungas said: “The earlier published trial findings from ASPREE in 2018 showed aspirin did not prolong healthy independent living, but was associated with a significantly increased risk of bleeding, primarily in the gastrointestinal tract.
“Major prescribing guidelines now recommend older adults take daily aspirin only when there is a medical reason to do so, such as after a heart attack.”
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Diabetes UK said the link between aspirin and diabetes is still unclear and carries a risk of side effects.
“We know the use of daily aspirin increases risk of potentially serious bleeding in people with diabetes and others,” said the charity’s Dr Faye Riley.
“So we advise only taking daily low-dose aspirin if your doctor recommends it and they will discuss exactly what dose is right for you.”
Dr Riley said the best way to cut the risk of diabetes was to maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet and do more physical activity.
Some 1.3 billion people could have diabetes by 2050 – more than double the current number – according to a study published in June in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal.
It called the condition one of the “biggest public health threats of our time”.