February 20, 2010
Ibuprofen Cuts Parkinson's Disease Risk

Ibuprofen (brands include Advil, Motrin, Midol, Nuprin) cuts the risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

ST. PAUL, Minn. New research shows people who regularly take ibuprofen may reduce their risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto April 10 to April 17, 2010.

What I want to know: What's the effect of long term ibuprofen on all-cause mortality? Does the risk of stomach bleeding from taking ibuprofen outweigh the risk reduction from avoiding Parkinson's?

The research involved 136,474 people who did not have Parkinson's disease at the beginning of the research. Participants were asked about their use of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen. After six years, 293 participants had developed Parkinson's disease.

The protective effect appears to be dose dependent.

The study found regular users of ibuprofen were 40 percent less likely to develop Parkinson's disease than people who didn't take ibuprofen. Also, people who took higher amounts of ibuprofen were less likely to develop Parkinson's disease than people who took smaller amounts of the drug. The results were the same regardless of age, smoking and caffeine intake.

The other studied NSAIDs did not deliver this benefit.

"Ibuprofen was the only NSAID linked to a lower risk of Parkinson's," said Xiang Gao, MD, with Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. "Other NSAIDs and analgesics, including aspirin and acetaminophen, did not appear to have any effect on lowering a person's risk of developing Parkinson's. More research is needed as to how and why ibuprofen appears to reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease, which affects up to one million people in the United States."

Since long term use of ibuprofen carries with it a risk of stomach bleeding (and the risk is greater above age 60) you shouldn't start taking it without a compelling reason that will convince you (and preferably your doctor too) that your benefits will outweigh your risks.

When many more genetic risk factors for Parkinson's become known it might become possible to narrow down to a much smaller population of people who are likely to cut their Parkinson's risk. Also, neurological or blood tests in middle age might some day help identify those at greater risk. Since most people do not get Parkinson's even in their old age most people won't experience a risk reduction from taking ibuprofen. The problem is that we do not know which people who take ibuprofen will benefit by either delaying or avoiding the development of Parkinson's.

Similarly, better genetic and other testing might identify those at most risk from bleeding when taking ibuprofen. The ideal group to take ibuprofen would be those at least risk of stomach bleeding who are also at higher risk for getting Parkinson's. Perhaps in another 5-10 years we'll have enough genetic testing capability to identify who ought to take ibuprofen.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 February 20 09:40 PM  Brain Disorders

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