"Other NSAIDs and analgesics, including aspirin and acetaminophen, did not appear to have any effect on lowering a person's risk of developing Parkinson's," says researcher Xiang Gao, MD, with Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, in a news release. "More research is needed as to how and why ibuprofen appears to reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease, which affects up to one million people in the United States."
The study, to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in April, looked at whether use of ibuprofen or other NSAIDs was associated with a lower risk of Parkinson's disease in 136,474 men and women in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Nurses' Health Study. No participants had Parkinson’s at the start of the study.
During six years of follow-up, 293 cases of Parkinson's disease were diagnosed.
Researchers found users of ibuprofen were nearly 40% less likely to develop Parkinson's disease than those who didn't take ibuprofen. The study also found that people who took more tablets of ibuprofen per week were less likely to develop Parkinson's disease than those who took less.
These effects of ibuprofen on the risk of developing Parkinson's disease remained the same regardless of factors such as age, smoking status, and caffeine use.
The study's results don't establish a direct cause-effect relationship between ibuprofen and Parkinson's disease. Ibuprofen, like other NSAIDs, can cause gastrointestinal bleeding and affect the kidneys. The researchers conclude that more study is needed to determine whether ibuprofen can offer prevention against Parkinson's.