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Painkillers May Not Protect Against Dementia
Date:4/22/2009

Contrary to prior research, study finds older people taking NSAIDs more likely to suffer decline

WEDNESDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- Research has suggested that older people who want to avoid Alzheimer's disease might want to take daily doses of painkillers such as ibuprofen and naproxen, but a new study suggests that might not be the best idea.

"If people are thinking, 'Should I take these to prevent dementia?', the answer based on our study would be no," said study author Dr. Eric B. Larson, executive director of the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle.

Still, he said, people who already take medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain shouldn't stop using them.

Previous have shown that the drugs -- which also include aspirin, which wasn't included in this study -- seem to have the power to prevent Alzheimer's disease in some cases, although they don't seem to help people who already have the disease or those who develop it quickly.

The relationship between the drugs and Alzheimer's disease appears to be "more complex than was earlier believed," the study authors wrote.

The findings appear in the April 22 online issue of Neurology.

In their study, the Seattle team examined the medical records of more than 2,700 people aged 65 and older who were members of a Washington state medical insurance group as early as 1977. Ninety percent were white.

The researchers checked their usage of NSAIDs and found that 351 were heavy users -- defined as being prescribed at least 500 daily doses over a two-year period -- when they were enrolled in the study. Another 107 started using the medications heavily later on.

The drugs in question include ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve) and others.

People who used the drugs extensively were 66 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who didn't, acco
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