MIAMI BEACH -- Over-the-counter pain relievers may help to prevent or delay the onset of Parkinson's disease, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology 57th Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, Fla., April 9 - 16, 2005. Researchers caution that the results are preliminary and further study is needed.
Out of 146,948 participants, the study identified a total of 413 cases of Parkinson's disease. The purpose was to identify whether the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen is associated with a lower risk of Parkinson's disease.
"Our previous study for the first time showed that regular users of non-aspirin NSAIDs had a lower risk of Parkinson's disease than non-users. There has been evidence suggesting a role of neuro-inflammation in the disease process, and our previous study indicated that non-aspirin NSAIDs might be protective," said lead author Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, of the Harvard School of Public Health and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
The findings indicated that ibuprofen users had a 35 percent lower risk of Parkinson's disease, and the results were similar in both men and women. The participants were tracked over the course of an average 8.5 years. The risk seemed to decrease depending on the weekly dosage. For people who took a daily ibuprofen tablet, the risk was 38 percent lower, compared to people who did not regularly take ibuprofen.
The reason ibuprofen has an effect on the development of Parkinson's remains unclear. "The mechanisms as to why ibuprofen protects against the disorder are not clear, and this is the area where we need more research," said Chen.
Age, gender, and smoking status -- known risk factors for Parkinson's disease -- could not explain the results. No significant associations were found between the use of aspirin, other NSAIDs, or acetaminophen and the risk of Parkinson's disease.
The study was supported by grants from the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Kinetics Foundation to Dr. Alberto Ascherio Harvard School of Public Health, who is the senior author of the study, as well as a grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 18,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and stroke.
For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit www.aan.com.
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