The use of low-dose aspirin led to a 20% increased incidence of anemia and a decrease in ferritin--the iron levels in the blood--in otherwise healthy older adults, a study found.

"Aspirin may contribute to an increased anemia risk through occult blood loss, resulting in anemia," the researchers wrote in the study, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. "To our knowledge, this is the first large-scale prevention trial to examine the effect of long-term, low-dose aspirin use on ... anemia."

"Although the risk for overt bleeding due to aspirin has been well-characterized, very few studies have measured the effect of aspirin on anemia, particularly in older populations," the lead author, Zoe K. McQuilten, told UPI.

What is iron-deficiency anemia?

Iron deficiency is a common reason for developing anemia, a condition where there's not enough hemoglobin in the red blood cells to carry oxygen effectively. Hemoglobin relies on iron to be produced properly, so when the body lacks sufficient iron intake or absorption, it can lead to iron-deficiency anemia.

The symptoms of this condition can vary from mild to unnoticeable, but some common signs include feeling tired, weak, having pale skin, experiencing shortness of breath, and getting frequent headaches.

Aspirin is an over-the-counter medication that belongs to a group of drugs called NSAIDs. It has a long history of being used to relieve pain, reduce fever, and lower inflammation. Derived from plants like the willow tree, aspirin is also used to reduce the possibility of heart attacks and strokes in high-risk individuals.

However, there are certain risk factors associated with the medication. Last year, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force advised against starting the use of low-dose aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease for adults aged 60 years or older due to the risk of bleeding.

For the new research, investigators from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, conducted a re-analysis of the 2010-2014 ASPREE trial, and found that the study used placebos and was double-blinded. The aspirin doses that were given to the participants were 100 mg of enteric-coated aspirin, while commonly available low-dose aspirin in the country is sold in 81 mg tablets. Some individuals consumed two capsules per day.

The data showed that people who took low-dose aspirin had a 23.5% chance of developing anemia. They also had slightly lower levels of hemoglobin and experienced a greater decrease in ferritin concentrations, as mentioned in a news release.

For aspirin to reduce mortality risk caused by breast cancer, the patient must have a certain DNA methylation. Pixabay