Blinded By Reye’s

LightRays Although aspirin generally comes with a warning against its use by children – due largely to an historical association with Reye’s Syndrome –  there is much evidence suggesting a very different story.

According to one study from a Florida pediatric hospital, Reye’s Syndrome (RS) was a ‘rare disease which…disappeared…in the late 1980s. An association between Reye’s syndrome and the ingestion of aspirin was claimed, although no proof of causation was ever established.’ (James P Orlowski, et al., 2002)

The study went on to state that the presence of aspirin has not been shown to be in the blood of RS patients and that ‘no animal model of Reye’s syndrome has been developed where aspirin causes the disease’.

Other studies have shown a far greater correlation between RS and paracetamol (acetaminophen) use, and epidemiological evidence seems to show that the disease was in significant decline long before warnings against aspirin use began.

“The diagnosis of Reye’s syndrome was confirmed pathologically in 42 of 49 cases (86%). Aspirin or salicylate ingestion occurred in only 4 (8%), and paracetamol (acetaminophen) ingestion in 12 (24%)…” (J P Orlowski, et al., 1990)

Aspirin has long been used as a preventative measure for children at risk of stroke, or a high risk of embolism due to congenital or acquired cardiac disease, and it appears that there are ‘no published examples of children who developed Reye’s syndrome while taking prophylactic aspirin.’ (ES Roach, 2000)

“Aspirin is used more than other antiplatelet agents in children, largely because of years of experience with aspirin and the lack of evidence that other agents are more effective.”

The 1980s campaign warning against aspirin use by children appears to have coincided with a dramatic increase in the sale of newer more profitable drugs like Tylenol or Panadol.

“Reye’s syndrome disappeared from countries where aspirin was not used in children as well as from countries which continued to use aspirin in children.” (James P Orlowski, et al., 2002)

There is, however, evidence showing increased levels of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) in the blood of children with Reye’s Syndrome, suggesting the possibility that aspirin therapy (being highly protective against the inflammatory breakdown products of the PUFAs) might be an effective and reasonable approach to treatment.

“Increased concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids have been found in sera from patients with RS.” (R E Brown, et al., 1988)

“Serial measurements of total serum free fatty acids (FFA) showed that levels were increased during RS and, after recovery, were significantly lower in the patients who survived…The increase in polyunsaturated fatty acids in FFA, the precursors of prostaglandins, suggests that a grossly disturbed prostaglandin pattern may occur in RS.” (P L Ogburn Jr, et al., 1982)

A diet restricting the intake of PUFAs, and providing sufficient protein, sugar, and other nutrients (from sweet ripe fruits, fruit juice, milk, cheese, honey, white sugar, and some well cooked starchy vegetables like white potatoes) – in order to help avoid exposure to excessive levels of free fatty acids – has been said to be a logical and rational approach to optimizing health and protecting against disease, including Reye’s.

I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, and none of this is intended as medical or health advice. Always consult your doctor in case of illness or before making medical and pharmaceutical decisions.

Have you seen any science effectively showing a causative relationship between aspirin use and the onset of RS?

Copyright 2021, by Dan M @ CowsEatGrass. All rights reserved (except for quotations and images having their own protected copyrights). This copyright protects author-publisher Dan M’s right to future publication of his work in any manner, in any and all media — utilizing technology now known or hereafter devised — throughout the world in perpetuity. Everything described in this publication is for information purposes only. The author-publisher, Dan M, is not directly or indirectly presenting or recommending any part of this publication’s data as a diagnosis or prescription for any ailment of any reader. If anyone uses this information without the advice of their professional health adviser, they are prescribing for themselves, and the author- publisher assumes no responsibility or liability. Persons using any of this data do so at their own risk and must take personal responsibility for what they don’t know as well as for what they do know.

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