Commonly used pain medications do not prevent Alzheimer's disease

April 26, 2007

Over-the-counter pain medication naproxen and prescription pain reliever celecoxib do not prevent Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published April 25, 2007, in the online edition of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. These findings appear to contradict earlier observational studies, which found sustained use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may have a protective effect against Alzheimer's disease.

The clinical trial, conducted at six dementia research clinics across the United States, involved more than 2,100 people over age 70 with no signs of dementia, but a family history of Alzheimer's disease. The participants were randomly assigned daily doses of naproxen, celecoxib, or placebo for up to four years, but most participants had received the treatments for less than two years.

The study found neither treatment was associated with a reduction in Alzheimer's disease or dementia.

"Although our study was conducted to test the hypothesis that celecoxib or naproxen would reduce the incidence of Alzheimer's disease, these results indicate no such effect, at least within the first few years after treatment begins," said study author Constantine Lyketsos, MD, MHS, with Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

The findings appear to be inconsistent with other studies suggesting reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease among people who take NSAIDs over a long period of time. "One possible explanation for this inconsistency is that our findings relate specifically to celecoxib and naproxen, but not to other commonly used NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen. Or the drugs may not prevent the progression of disease in people who have advanced Alzheimer's pathology without symptoms – the very people most likely to develop symptoms within a year or two," said study author John C. S. Breitner, MD, with VA Puget Sound Health Care.

"While long-term follow-up of our study's participants is essential, for now we suggest celecoxib and naproxen not be taken to primarily prevent Alzheimer's disease," urged Lyketsos.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Explore further: Ibuprofen linked to reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease

Related Stories

Ibuprofen linked to reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease

May 5, 2008

Long-term use of ibuprofen and other drugs commonly used for aches and pains was associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in the May 6, 2008, issue of Neurology, the medical journal ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.