Popular Painkiller Ibuprofen May Lower Parkinson's Risk
Ibuprofen may reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease, new research suggests. Scientists at Harvard University analyzed data from more than 136,000 healthy adults, and found that those who took the popular painkiller at least twice weekly for six years were 38 percent less likely to develop Parkinson's compared with those who regularly took aspirin, acetaminophen, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. When the researchers combined the results with those of six previously published studies, ibuprofen users had a 27 percent lower risk of developing the disease. Though the reason for the relationship is unclear, researchers speculate that ibuprofen not only lowers inflammation in the brain—thought to play a role in Parkinson's—but may also trigger protective brain chemical interactions that other drugs in its class don't, according to the study published Wednesday in Neurology. Parkinson's, a neurodegenerative brain disorder that causes tremors and movement problems, affects about 1 million Americans—mostly elderly people. Exactly why the disease develops is still mysterious. Although a small number of cases may have a genetic link, most are thought to be sparked by environmental factors, including exposure to toxins like carbon monoxide. The researchers caution that their findings don't prove that ibuprofen prevents Parkinson's, and say more research is needed before doctors prescribe it prophylactically. "I haven't discounted that it's possibly protective, but there's also other explanations," James Bower, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic who coauthored an editorial published along with the study, told Bloomberg. "This study is exciting because it shows a pretty convincing association."
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12 Things You Should Know About Aspirin
Aspirin, that old standard in everyone's medicine chest, can really pack a wallop. So much so that the American Heart Association has long recommended aspirin therapy for people who've had a heart attack, stroke caused by blood clot, unstable angina, or "ministrokes." The AHA also notes that even people who have not experienced such an event but who are at increased risk because of family history, say, may also stand to gain from aspirin therapy.
We're certainly familiar with our aspirin: About 60 percent of people ages 65 and older pop aspirin at least once a week. But this cheap, over-the-counter pill is not benign, and regular use should be discussed with a doctor. Along with its benefits, aspirin has limitations, too. A roundup of research suggests taking aspirin regularly may do the following:
1) Cut pre-eclampsia risk during pregnancy. A research review published in the Lancet in 2007 suggests that pregnant women who took aspirin or other antiplatelet drugs were 10 percent less likely to develop the disorder that involves high blood pressure and potentially serious complications for mother and fetus. Aspirin therapy during pregnancy should definitely be discussed with an obstetrician.
2) Reduce risk of developing colorectal cancers. The journal Gastroenterology published a study in 2008 that found a significantly lowered risk of developing the cancers in men with regular, long-term aspirin (and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory) use. The benefits, however, were not evident until individuals had amassed a total of five consistent years of regular use. Also, the dose with the biggest benefit—325-mg pills more than 14 times each week—is greater than typically recommended. [Read more: 12 Things You Should Know About Aspirin.]
Orthorexia: An Unhealthy Obsession With Healthy Eating
At the beginning the goal seems innocent, even smart: a vow to eat more whole grains, or more fruits and vegetables. But healthy eating can turn rigid and confining, wiping out whole categories of food one by one—first anything with additives, perhaps, then maybe nonorganic produce, and then another and another. It can become decidedly unhealthy. The focus on quality and purity can deteriorate into orthorexia, a term coined in 1996 by physician Steven Bratman to describe a "fixation on righteous eating." Like anorexia and bulimia, it can wreak serious damage on the health of someone trapped in the obsession, U.S. News reports.
"Orthorexia boils down to someone who is very, very concerned with eating what they consider the perfect diet," says Joy Jacobs, a clinical psychologist with the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine. "This is someone who takes healthy eating to an extreme and feels good about it. These people often have a sense of moral superiority." While others abuse their bodies, they know better. [Read more: Orthorexia: An Unhealthy Obsession With Healthy Eating.]
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