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What is Safer -- Fighting Fires or Taking Aspirin?

May 23, 2007

Taking an aspirin every day is nearly as risky as working as a firefighter.

For 50-year-old men, taking a daily aspirin (which many do to help prevent heart disease and strokes) increases the risk of death by the equivalent of 10.4 deaths per 100,000 men per year.

This is similar to the added risk that professional firefighters face. Firefighters have an added risk of 10.6 deaths per 100,000 people per year, compared to 3.9 for all occupations and 0.4 for office workers.

In comparison, drugs that have been withdrawn from the market, such as the painkiller Vioxx and the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, increased the risk of death by 76 deaths per 100,000 people per year and 65 deaths per 100,000 people per year, respectively. Tysabri may be reintroduced to the market if the FDA deems it worth using despite the risks.

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