It’s noted that as early as 400 BC, the Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed willow bark and leaves for his patients to relieve pain and fever. The active substance in the willow bark that made it effective was salicin, much like acetylsalicylic acid, which is what we know today as aspirin.
It was developed into its more recognizable form by a German chemist named Felix Hoffmann works to develop a pain reliever for his father’s arthritis in 1897, and his company, Bayer, begins distribution to physicians for patients in 1899. It is soon the most used drug in the world.
By 1915, you could buy aspirin over the counter in powder or tablet form, and by the 1920’s it was recommended to treat pain related to rheumatism, lumbago and neuralgia.
As early as 1948, an aspirin-heart connection is noted by Dr. Lawrence Craven, a GP in California, who finds that 400 men he prescribed aspirin for had suffered no heart attacks. He starts recommending an aspirin a day to keep the heart attack away.
In 1952, Children’s Chewable Aspirin appear on the market, and in 1969, Bayer Aspirin is in the first aid kits sent with the astronauts to the moon. By the early 1970’s, new discoveries are being made connecting aspirin to reducing inflammation.
Aspirin becomes a potential lifesaver in 1988, to be taken on a regular basis to reduce the risk of recurrent heart attack, first heart attacks for patients with unstable angina, and those with history of mini-strokes. Research continues regarding a connection between aspirin and cancer prevention. Positive results of treatment for prevention of heart attack and stroke is affirmed in 1998.
Since 2000 studies have continued to reveal more positive results pointing toward aspirin as a cancer preventative and inhibitor. Rothwell’s recent studies in the March 21 The Lancet and The Lancet Oncology are only the most recent.