Is Aspirin Bad for Your Liver?


Taken in moderation, aspirin is not bad for your liver. In fact, studies have shown that, in certain situations, aspirin can actually prevent liver damage that is caused by heavy drinking. However, like all medication, too much aspirin can be harmful to your health, and even fatal.

What is Aspirin?

Aspirin is the common name for acetylsalicylic acid. It's usually prescribed as an analgesic to relieve aches and pains, including headaches. It reduces fever and inflammation. More recently, doctors have started prescribing aspirin to certain patients to reduce the chance of a heart attack. Aspirin is an antiplatelet. It prevents blood clots from forming.


Aspirin is derived from the bark of the willow tree. It dates back to as far as the ancient Greeks in 400 BC, when it was prescribed to relieve pain and fever. Salicylic acid was first synthesized in Germany in 1832. In 1897, a French chemist named Felix Hoffmann was working for Bayer in Germany. He chemically synthesized a stable version of acetylsalicylic acid, which was similar to the drug we now know as aspirin. It wasn't until 1915 that aspirin became available in pill form, without a prescription.

Aspirin and the Liver

There is no evidence that aspirin is bad for your liver, as long as you follow the recommended dosage. In fact, in certain cases, the opposite may be true. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that aspirin reduced the rates of liver damage in mice after the mice were given an overdose of the painkiller paracetamol. It's thought that aspirin somehow affects the chemical pathway that triggers inflammation of the liver. It is this inflammation that leads to serious liver damage. The scientists hope that aspirin will similarly cut the rates of liver cirrhosis among alcoholics.

Side Effects

After almost a century of being available over the counter, aspirin is considered a very safe and effective drug. However, like other medications, it can have side effects. Some people may experience heartburn, nausea, stomach pain, and vomiting. In more severe cases, the person may break out in hives. He may have rapid breathing and an increased heart rate. This is rare, but if you do experience side effects, contact your doctor straight away.


Aspirin is no longer prescribed to children because of a small risk of them developing Reye's syndrome, a condition where fat builds up in the brain and in other organs. It can be fatal. Aspirin is often prescribed to prevent heart attacks and stroke. While it's very effective at reducing the chance of a blood clot, it will not prevent hemorrhagic stokes, caused by bleeding in the brain. In fact, aspirin may actually increase the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke because it thins the blood.

Related Searches


  • National Library of Medicine
  • Imaeda et al. (2009) Acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity in mice is dependent on Tlr9 and the Nalp3 inflammasome. Journal of Clinical Investigation, Jan 26.
  • BBC
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