advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Preventing Alzheimer's with NSAIDs?

Not long ago I read that regular use of ibuprofen lowers Alzheimer's risk. Now I read that other drugs also lower the risk but that using these medications for this purpose isn't recommended. Why not?

A
Answer (Published 8/11/2008)

I don't blame you for being confused about the seeming contradictions. Despite a number of studies showing that taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on a regular basis lowers the risk of Alzheimer's, this issue remains controversial. NSAIDs include ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen. Here's a summary of the latest findings:

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging - Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet! - Everything you need to get started eating a healthful, satisfying diet is here - including eating and shopping guides, over 300 recipes, and an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid! Start your 14-day free trial now - and start eating anti-inflammatory today!

In May 2008 the journal Neurology published a study from Boston University School of Medicine showing that people who took ibuprofen for more than five years had a 44 percent lower than normal risk of developing Alzheimer's and that other NSAIDs reduced the risk by 25 percent. This study included more than 49,000 U.S. veterans aged 55 and older who developed Alzheimer's and nearly 200,000 who didn't. The researchers looked at these patients' medical records to determine their use of different NSAIDs. (Ibuprofen is the active ingredient in Advil, Motrin and other pain medications.)

Less than a month later, the same journal published online another study showing that different NSAIDs, not just ibuprofen, appeared to be equally effective in lowering the risk of Alzheimer's. These data come from an analysis of six different studies of NSAID use in 13,499 people, none of whom had dementia at the outset. By the time the studies ended, 820 individuals had developed Alzheimer's. The apparent risk was 23 percent lower among participants who used NSAIDs compared to those who never took them.

While all of this suggests that NSAIDs have a protective effect, we can't say for sure which ones work best or that people should start taking any of them to ward of Alzheimer's. First of all, taking NSAIDs long-term isn't risk-free. These drugs can cause serious gastrointestinal problems including stomach ulcers and bleeding, and even fatal GI bleeds, and we don't yet know if the benefits outweigh these risks. We need more research to look at that and to determine which NSAIDs are most effective. If one (or all) of the drugs prove to work as well as studies so far indicate, we will have to figure out when to take them – and for how long – for maximum protection. Stay tuned. I'll update you as we learn more.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here