Researchers say “no-no” to the thought of painkillers preventing Alzheimer’s

Posted online 4/30/07 by the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation at GNIF Brainblogger.* Reproduced with permission.

Two new studies, first appeared in the British Medical Journal (BMJ),1 while the second published in the latest issue of the Neurology2 journal disputed the belief that commonly used painkillers help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

The first study in BMJ looked at over 6,000 women. The other in Neurology looked at 2,000 with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study was conducted by research teams at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which followed 2,100 people aged over 70. None of them had signs of dementia at the beginning of the study. Participants were given doses of aspirin, naproxen, celecoxib or placebo for four years.

All participants, over period of time, were asked to complete tasks designed to test memory and were also checked for signs of dementia. Researchers found no difference between two groups – placebo and controlled groups. Thus, researchers announced that aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have no effect in preventing the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Researchers, however, said that another NSAID, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), had been shown to dissolve away protein clumps in the brain that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease. But they advised not to take aspirin or ibuprofen to try to protect against dementia or Alzheimer’s, as they can cause dangerous side-effects, including stomach ulcers and kidney problems.

Dr. Susanne Sorenesen, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said, “There is nothing to suggest that painkillers reduce the onset of Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.” She advised that the best way for reducing the risks of Alzheimer’s is a healthy lifestyle, with regular exercise and a balanced diet. She also added that a healthy heart leads to a healthy mind.


1. Kang JH, et al. “Low dose aspirin and cognitive function in the women’s health study cognitive cohort”. BMJ. 2007 May 12;334(7601):961-2

2. Lyketsos CG et al. “Naproxen and celecoxib do not prevent AD in early results from a randomized controlled trial”. Neurology 2007 May 22;68(21):1800-8.


* The “open-access” site is sponsored by the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation (GNIF), which describes itself as “a non-profit charity organization for the advancement of neurological and mental health patient welfare, education, and research. We aim to further brain related studies, end stigmatization and discrimination, improve the well-being of afflicted individuals, promote the free and open-access distribution of brain related information, and institute universal and multidisciplinary distance educational programs.”

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