Ibuprofen might protect the brain from Parkinson's disease

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Ibuprofen and Parkinson's

Ibuprofen might have a protective effect that lowers the chances of developing Parkinson's disease. Researchers found a 38 percent reduced risk of developing the disease among those taking the drug regularly in a study of 98,892 female nurses and 37,305 male health professionals and a 27 percent lower risk after an analysis of combined studies.

Ibuprofen targets brain receptor, explaining neuroprotective effect

The researcher, from the American Academy of Neurology, suggests ibuprofen may have a neuroprotective effect against Parkinson's disease because it targets the brain receptor called the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor y (PPARy) that play a role several metabolic and cellular processes including glucose and lipid metabolism.

Xiang Gao, MD, PhD, with Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston says, “Our results show that ibuprofen may protect the brain in ways that other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and analgesics, such as aspirin or acetaminophen, cannot,”

For the study, participants answered questionnaires about ibuprofen frequency of use. Regular use was considered two or more times a week. After six years, 291 of the study group participants developed Parkinson's disease.


Though the study is one of the largest to find the possible protection from Parkinson's disease, the drug is not without risks that include increased risk of hypertension, gastrointestinal bleeding and interference with blood thinners.

The researchers also say it may not be the drug protecting from Parkinson's disease, but rather another indirect action. Past studies have linked ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to lower risk of Alzheimer's, while contradictory research suggested heavy use of NSAID's did not protect from dementia and Alzheimer's disease and may even increase the risk.

Parkinson's disease is primarily a hereditary disease that affects men more than women. There is no known way to reduce risk factor for the disease that causes tremors, difficulty walking, speaking and eating and leads to significant depression.

The bottom line is, though a lower risk of Parkinson's disease was observed in the current study among regular ibuprofen users, more research is needed to understand how and if the drug does have neuroprotective qualities and should be interpreted with caution.

Image courtesy: morguefile.com


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