Ibuprofen, the drug contained in such pain relievers as Advil, Motrin and Nuprin, may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 60 percent, researchers reported Thursday.
Aspirin and acetaminophen, which is in pain relievers such as Tylenol, appeared to have no effect on preventing the disease, according to the 14-year Johns Hopkins University study of 2,065 elderly people.
The study is the latest and one of the largest suggesting that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, help the brain fight the effects of amyloid protein deposits linked to Alzheimer’s. Ibuprofen is ‘the most common NSAID.
The study, released at a conference of the American Academy of Neurology, looked at people who had routinely taken pain relievers for various ailments. The study did not specify how much ibuprofen they used or how often.
Because of that, researchers and the Alzheimer’s Association cautioned people against rushing out and buying the drugs. They also noted that the drug can cause gastric bleeding, and that chronic use may be related to other diseases.
Walter Stewart, the study’s co-author and an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins, said that the results are promising but that more research is needed.
The study focused on three types of pain relievers: aspirin, non-aspirin NSAIDS and acetaminophen.
People who used NSAIDs from 1980 to 1994 were 30 percent to 60 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who used the other pain relievers or no drugs at all. The longer the use, the better the results.
Stewart said the researchers were uncertain why aspirin, which is also an anti-inflammatory drug, did not show the same results.
The Alzheimer’s Association said the Johns Hopkins study bolsters a 1994 Duke University study on 50 sets of elderly twins. That study found that the twin who took anti-inflammatory drugs for arthritis was 10 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than the twin who didn’t.