Date Published: 2 March 2011

Ibuprofen may reduce risk of developing Parkinson's Disease

Health News from the United States of America (USA)

Recent research conducted at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in the United States indicates that adults who regularly take ibuprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), have about one-third less risk of developing Parkinson's disease than non-users.

" There is no cure for Parkinson's disease, so the possibility that ibuprofen, an existing and relatively non-toxic drug, could help protect against the disease is captivating," said senior author Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at HSPH.


Parkinson's disease is a progressive nervous disease, symptoms of which tend to surface after the age of about 50 years. It is thought to affect at least half a million Americans, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Approximately 50,000 new cases are reported each year and that quantity is expected to increase as the U.S. population ages. It has been speculated that ibuprofen may reduce inflammation in the brain, which may contribute to Parkinson's disease.

Prior studies showed a reduced Parkinson's disease risk among NSAIDS users, but most did not differentiate between ibuprofen and other non-aspirin NSAIDs.

The recent study considered data from nearly 99,000 women enrolled in the Brigham and Women's Hospital-based Nurses' Health Study and over 37,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The researchers identified 291 cases (156 men and 135 women) of Parkinson's disease during their six-year follow-up study (1998-2004 in women; 2000-2006 in men). Based on questionnaires, the researchers analyzed the patients' use of ibuprofen (e.g. Advil, Motrin, Nuprin), aspirin or aspirin-containing products, other anti-inflammatory pain relievers (e.g., Aleve, Naprosyn), and acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol). (Although not an NSAID, acetaminophen was included because it's similarly used to treat pain.) Age, smoking, diet, caffeine, and other variables also were considered.

" We observed that men and women who used ibuprofen two or more times per week were about 38% less likely to develop Parkinson's disease than those who regularly used aspirin, acetaminophen, or other NSAIDs," said lead author Xiang Gao, research scientist at HSPH and associate epidemiologist in the Channing Laboratory at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

"Our findings suggest that ibuprofen could be a potential neuroprotective agent against Parkinson's disease, however, the exact mechanism is unknown," he added.

This information raises hope that a readily available, inexpensive drug could help to treat Parkinson's disease in the future. However, this data does not mean that people who already have Parkinson's disease should begin taking ibuprofen. The researchers advised that although ibuprofen is generally considered to be safe (in appropriate doses), it can have some side effects e.g. an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. The question of whether or not this risk would be compensated by a slowing of the progression of Parkinson's disease progression is yet to be investigated under rigorous supervision in a randomized clinical trial.


Ref. to Paper: "Use of Ibuprofen and Risk of Parkinson's Disease," Xiang Gao, Honglei Chen, Michael A. Schwarzschild, and Alberto Ascherio. Neurology, March 8, 2011. Online March 2, 2011.


Source: Harvard School of Public Health, USA - from Press Release.

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