During the six-year follow up, 291 cases of Parkinson's disease were identified.
Those who used ibuprofen had a 38 percent reduced risk of developing the disease compared to those who didn't use it, even after taking into account age, smoking and other factors.
When the researchers conducted a larger analysis using data from other studies on ibuprofen, other NSAIDs and disease risk, they found that, overall, ibuprofen users reduced their risk of Parkinson's by 27 percent compared to non-users.
No reduction in risk was found for those who took aspirin or other NSAIDs.
The ibuprofen may reduce inflammation thought to be a factor in the disease, Gao said. Or, it may target a receptor in the brain, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor y (PPARy).
What is known about PPAR, he said, is that it can inhibit cell death and oxidative damage.
Rezak said the research focus has shifted in recent years from treating symptoms to finding ways to detect Parkinson's disease before symptoms strike so neurons can be protected. Ibuprofen, he said, "may have some disease-modifying, neuroprotective effect in Parkinson's disease."
The finding is made more interesting, Rezak noted, because the link between reduced risk and medicine was limited to the ibuprofen.
In an editorial accompanying the study, Drs. James H. Bower and Beate Ritz bring up another possibility. It's believed that Parkinson's may begin to develop up to 20 years before motor problems appear. They ask: "Could gastrointestinal symptoms cause a patient with preclinical [Parkinson's disease] to be less likely to take ibuprofen regularly, thus explaining the association?"
To learn more about Parkinson's disease, visit the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
SOURCES: Xiang Gao,
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