Advil May Reduce Risk of Alzheimer's
> 5/6/2008 3:09:54 PM

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to treat a wide variety of ills, from arthritis to headaches to gout. Many elderly people take small daily doses of NSAIDs like Aspirin and Advil as a general protection against any inflammatory problems that might arise in the future. As researchers started to link Alzheimer's Disease (AD) to inflammation, speculation grew that NSAIDs could lower the risk of AD. Despite some promising results, no one was able to conclusively show this benefit because the positive studies were small, short, and counterbalanced by negative studies. Finally, a team led by Dr. Steven Vlad may have settled the matter with a massive long-term study published this month in Neurology.

Dr. Vlad studied over five years worth of 250,000 files from the Veterans Affairs Health Care system. He found that veterans who took NSAIDs for more than five years had a 25% reduction in AD cases. This is quite a significant protection considering the devastating effects of dementia, but an even more impressive protection became visible when Dr. Vlad focused on specific NSAIDs. It turns out that some NSAIDs, like ibuprofen and indomethacin, confer great benefits while others, like celecoxib, are of no help. This may have been the reason that previous studies reached conflicting results. It is not yet clear how some NSAIDs work, since the original speculation that neural plaque inhibiting NSAIDs would show the greatest protection proved to be unfounded.

Ibuprofen, taken by thousands of Americans every day in the form of Advil or in generic varieties, cut rates of AD almost in half in this study. If this protection can be extended to the entire population, the economic and emotional benefits would be profound. More study is required however, before everyone starts popping pills, because while ibuprofen is considered a very safe drug, it does have some possible side-effects such as ulcers and kidney malfunction. Hopefully, the knowledge that only certain NSAIDs fight AD will help researchers understand what qualities future treatments should have. The ability to begin protecting against AD years before neurons start to die will be invaluable, especially for those who know that they face a greater genetic risk.

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