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Report: Ibuprofen could reduce Alzheimer's risk

Women March 10, 1997
Web posted at: 10:51 a.m. EST (1551 GMT)

From Medical Correspondent Jeff Levine

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Certain over-the-counter painkillers may reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study released Monday and sponsored by the U.S. government.

Scientists at the National Institutes on Aging and Johns Hopkins University found that taking drugs such as ibuprofen -- called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) -- for as little as two years could be an effective preventative against the debilitating disease.

"Things you can buy over the counter can reduce heart disease, can reduce a number of other kinds of conditions," said Dr. E. Jeffrey Metter of the NIA. icon (120K/15 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

Some scientists believe that inflammation plays a role in the development of mind-destroying plaque deposits which build up the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

Smaller studies have checked for a possible link between Alzheimer's and anti-inflammatory drugs and have found a possible effect from these drugs. But the current study -- published in the journal Neurology -- was a larger, longer- term study.


Relying on data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, the research looked at 2,300 people over 15 years. About 1,700 of those people took anti-inflammatory drugs for arthritis or other conditions.

Those taking the NSAIDS had a 50 percent less chance of contracting Alzheimer's than those who did not. And, said Walter Stewart of Johns Hopkins, the study found evidence that the risk level drops with continued use.

"The group that took it the longest, more than two years, had a 60 percent reduction in risk," Stewart said.

But the scientists said that more research is needed to delve into possible side effects of long-term use of the drugs.

The researchers found no effect from aspirin and acetaminophen drugs. But because many in the study were already taking low doses of aspirin to prevent heart attacks, higher doses might work, researchers said.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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