Painkillers reduce risk of Parkinson's

Taking painkillers like ibuprofen or aspirin could help cut the risk of developing Parkinson's disease, US research suggests.

Regular users of non-aspirin NSAIDs like ibuprofen were found to have a 60 per cent lower risk of developing Parkinson's compared with those who did not use the drugs, while women who were regular users of aspirin reduced their risk of Parkinson's by 40 per cent.

For this retrospective study, the researchers selected 293 people who had been diagnosed with Parkinson's and a control group of 286 healthy individuals matched by age, sex and race.

The participants were asked if they had taken aspirin and if they had taken non-aspirin NSAIDs once a week or more at any point in their life for at least a month.

Participants were considered regular aspirin users or non-aspirin NSAIDs users if they took two or more pills a week for at least a month.

The researchers identified that 41 per cent of the participants had been regular non-aspirin NSAID users, while 30 per cent had been regular aspirin users over the six-year study period.

But both aspirin and non-aspirin NSAID use was found to be less frequent amongst those that went on to develop Parkinson's.

Those who had been regular non-aspirin NSAID users were 60 per cent less likely to develop Parkinson's.

Women who were regular users of aspirin reduced their risk of Parkinson's by 40 per cent. Aspirin use did not, however, protect men against Parkinson's.

Lead researcher Dr Angelika Wahner, from the school of public health at the University of California, said: 'Our findings suggest NSAIDs are protective against Parkinson's, with a protective effect among regular users of non-aspirin NSAIDs.

'Interestingly, aspirin only benefited women because it may be that men take lower doses of aspirin for heart problems.'

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

Neurology 2007; 69: 1,836-42

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