People who regularly take ibuprofen (Advil) may have a lower risk for developing Parkinson’s disease, according to new research that will be presented in April at a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Toronto. In a six-year study of more than 130,000 people, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that those who frequently took ibuprofen were 40% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease during the study period than those who didn’t.
At the onset of the study, no participants had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s; by the end of the six-year period, 293 subjects had developed the disease. Throughout the research period, study participants were asked about their use of different types of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), including aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen. At the end of the study, researchers said that they found no correlation between reduced Parkinson’s risk and regular use of acetaminophen or aspirin. Additionally, even after controlling for caffeine consumption, age and smoking, the link between regular ibuprofen use and reduced Parkinson’s risk persisted. Also, study participants who took larger amounts of ibuprofen were less likely to develop the disease than those who took smaller amounts.
As many as one million people across the U.S. currently have Parkinson’s disease, and some 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, according to the National Parkinson Foundation. Additional research to understand the relationship between ibuprofen and an apparent reduction in Parkinson’s disease risk is a critical next step, the researchers say, and one that could potentially illuminate new treatments for the debilitating condition.
*The post originally stated that the American Academy of Neurology conference was taking place on February 17. The organization’s annual meeting is scheduled to take place in Toronto from April 10–17.