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Ibuprofen 'cuts Parkinson's risk'

6th November 2007

US researchers say that people who take two doses a week of non-steriod anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen could cut their risk of developing Parkinson's disease by as much as 60%.

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The over-the-counter medications could slow the onset of the disease by reducing inflammation, particular in the brain, the study found.

Researchers surveyed 579 men and woman, 50% of whom had Parkinson's disease. They asked them how much aspirin or other common (NSAIDs) they took, or had taken at any point in the past.

NSAIDs is an umbrella term covering aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and diclofenac. Other painkillers like paracetamol (acetominophen) have no effect.

Regular users were considered to be those who took two or more doses a week for at least a month.

While the drug had no effect on the disease if it was already well developed, researchers found that the risk of Parkinson's disease was reduced by up to 60% among regular users of NSAIDs, and that the effect lasted for up to two years after the person stopped taking the drug.

Published in the journal Neurology, the study also found that women taking aspirin twice a week reduced their likelihood of developing the disease by 40%, although the effect was not seen in men.

Angelika Wahner of the University of California at Los Angeles said the findings suggested that NSAIDs could protect people against Parkinson's disease.

It is not known exactly how this happens, however. Colleague Beate Ritz said it could be because the death of brain cells - which causes Parkinson's - stimulates the immune system. This causes inflammation in the brain, which in turn can lead to further cell death.

However some experts warn that the link is still far from established, and has not shown up in previous studies.


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