The study is published in the March 2, 2011, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that causes tremors and difficulty with movement and walking. It affects about one million people in the United States.
“Our results show that ibuprofen may protect the brain in ways that other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and analgesics, such as aspirin or acetaminophen, cannot,” said Xiang Gao, MD, PhD, with Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
For the study, researchers analyzed data taken from 98,892 female nurses and 37,305 male health professionals. Participants reported their use of ibuprofen and other NSAIDS. Taking ibuprofen two or more times per week was considered regular use. After six years, 291 were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Scientists found that people who took ibuprofen regularly had a 38 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease compared to those who did not take ibuprofen. After a larger analysis that combined several other studies on ibuprofen and other NSAID use, the researchers found that ibuprofen users had a 27 percent lower risk of developing the disease compared to non-users.
“One possibility as to why ibuprofen may have this effect against Parkinson’s disease is that it may target a certain receptor in the brain called the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor y (PPARy). Studies in animals have also suggested this effect,” said Gao.
Editorial author James H. Bower, MD, MSc, with Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, said the study does not mean people should begin taking ibuprofen regularly to avoid developing Parkinson’s disease. “Long-term ibuprofen use has a lengthy list of risks,” he said. “However, the idea that ibuprofen may have these neuroprotective effects unique from other NSAIDS is cause for more research. Additionally, the use of ibuprofen may not be directly reducing the risk of Parkinson’s. It may be related to some other unrecognized factor that is actually reducing the risk.” The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 22,500 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. 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, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit http://www.aan.com.