According to scientists at Yale University ordinary aspirin may help prevent liver damage in millions of people suffering from the side effects of common drugs, alcohol abuse and obesity-related liver disease.
The new study by researchers at Yale School of Medicine suggests that aspirin may help prevent and treat liver damage from a host of non-infectious causes.
Dr. Wajahat Mehal from the Digestive Diseases and Department of Immunobiology, says research with mice has shown that aspirin reduced the number of deaths caused by an overdose of acetaminophen, best known as paracetamol.
Dr. Mehal says many agents such as drugs and alcohol cause liver damage, and they found that aspirin blocks a central pathway responsible for such liver injury.
He says aspirin could be used on a daily basis to prevent liver injury and suggests that promising drugs which have failed clinical trials because of liver toxicity might be resurrected if combined with aspirin.
Dr. Mehal says the strategy offers the exciting possibility of reducing a lot of pain and suffering in patients with liver diseases, using a new and very practical approach.
Aspirin it seems counteracts new mechanisms of acetaminophen or paracetamol-induced liver damage - overdoses of acetaminophen account for most drug overdoses in most Western countries.
Such overdoses cause two waves of liver damage - the first wave of liver cell destruction is a result of the toxic nature of acetaminophen - the second wave is mediated by molecules of the immune system, which is activated in response to the initial acetaminophen-induced liver damage.
A daily aspirin is already recommended to prevent heart attacks in people at high risk of having one and recent research has shown that aspirin can help treat heart attacks - doses of between 75 milligrams and 325 milligrams help thin the blood; it has also been suggested women who take aspirin once a day may slightly reduce their risk of the most common type of breast cancer.
The study is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.