Regular use of the common over-the-counter pain reliever ibuprofen may cut the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a new study suggests.

The study is one of the largest to investigate the possible benefits of ibuprofen on Parkinson’s, a brain disorder that causes tremors and movement problems and affects mostly elderly people. Scientists found that people who take ibuprofen regularly have a 38% lower risk of developing the condition, compared with those who don’t use it. Other pain relievers, such as aspirin and acetaminophen, did not show the same effect, researchers said.

“Our study suggests ibuprofen could be a potential neuroprotective agent against Parkinson’s,” says author Xiang Gao, a research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health and instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. The study was published Wednesday in the online edition of the journal Neurology.

Researchers analyzed data taken from 136,197 nurses and other health professionals who reported their use of ibuprofen and similar pain relievers known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. Taking ibuprofen — found in such brand names as Advil or Motrin — two or more times a week was considered regular use.

After six years, 291 participants were diagnosed with Parkinson’s; people who took ibuprofen regularly had a 38% lower risk of developing the disorder compared with those who didn’t use it. Additional analysis combining several studies on ibuprofen and other NSAIDs showed ibuprofen users had a 27% lower risk of developing the disease, scientists found.

The idea that there is inflammation involved in the process of Parkinson’s is not new, says Alessandro Di Rocco, director of the Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Division at NYU’s Langone Medical Center. Knowing ibuprofen may have a positive impact though, is a step further, he says.

“By understanding what chemical interactions in the brain are affected by ibuprofen, we may gain a broader understanding of what causes the disease and develop more effective ways to intervene to stop its progression,” he says.

It’s too early for doctors to prescribe ibuprofen to prevent Parkinson’s, which affects about 1 million Americans, says the author of an accompanying editorial, James Bower, an associate professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

“The study itself was scientifically very sound, but an association does not mean causation. That’s what I want to make sure we remember,” Bower says.

“It’s very tempting to extract from this and go to the next step: Why not give ibuprofen to everybody? But there are reasons not to. It’s a drug that is more powerful than it appears,” says Di Rocco, who lists kidney, liver, stomach and urological complications related to ibuprofen’s use.

Another study out this week in Urology suggests ibuprofen and other NSAIDs also could be linked to erectile dysfunction.

Read full article here: Source – USA Today