Two popular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) failed to slow dementia in a study of 351 patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. In the first large-scale trial on NSAIDs and Alzheimer’s, patients who were given Aleve (naproxen sodium, 220 mg twice a day) or Vioxx (rofecoxib, 25 mg once a day) for one year fared no better than those who got a placebo for a year. So, what to do? It’s too early to conclude that NSAIDs either can or cannot prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. It’s possible that anti-inflammatory drugs work only if taken at a higher dose, for longer than a year, or before the disease sets in. It’s also possible that the researchers used the ‘wrong’ NSAIDs.
Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) reduces brain inflammation in animals, and much of the human evidence that NSAIDs can prevent Alzheimer’s comes from people who take ibuprofen for arthritis or other chronic conditions. (The evidence on aspirin is weaker.) This study used Vioxx and a low dose of Aleve to avoid gastrointestinal (GI) problems that can occur with ibuprofen (and aspirin).
(Source: Nutrition Action Health Newsletter, September 2003.)