If you take an anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal drug like naproxen or ibuprofen, and think that it will help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, think again. A study in Neurology suggests that NSAID users do not have lower rates of dementia. On the contrary, an increased use of the pain relievers appears to raise the risk of cognitive decline.
Researchers were surprised by the results because inflammation is currently believed to be a cause or marker of Alzheimer’s. In addition, other studies claimed that anti-inflammatory pills lowered the dementia risk. An article in USA Today quotes Duke’s aging expert Murali Doraiswamy who explains that these latest results did not surprise him and that previous trials evaluating Vioxx, aspirin and prednisone, also anti-inflammatory medications, did not show any reduced risks of cognitive decline. "Any benefits noted in prior studies were likely due to an epiphenomenon — the people taking NSAIDS were younger, healthier and better educated, all of which biased the results."
This new finding doesn’t rule out the role of inflammation in the dementia process. It’s just that these anti-inflammatory drugs do not work to prevent Alzheimer’s. Are there any anti-inflammatories that do work?
I suggest that we turn to nature.
- A Mediterranean diet – fish, whole grains, nuts, a little red wine, olive oil and a rainbow array of fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise – working out sheds stress which releases powerful inflammatory hormones. Who can live a stress-free life? Move that stress out of your body. It’s as simple as putting on your sneakers and walking out the door.
- Keep your life in a healthy balance. Don’t let the scale tip to obesity.
- Make lifestyle changes to avoid getting type 2 diabetes. This means adhering to a balanced diet, choosing complex carbs over white, processed carbs and getting plenty of exercise.
- Get out in the sun light. Many diseases point to Vitamin D deficiency. Keep your immune system vigilant.
- Stimulate your brain and your senses. Nothing deadens the heart like routine. Aim for some small adventures and novel experiences. Remember if it is not heart smart, it will not help the brain.
So, if you have been taking Advil or Aleve to prevent dementia, forget about it. Anyway, these over the counter pills can be rough on the stomach, upsetting the delicate balance. Many people who are headache sufferers have realized that they get rebound headaches from these pills that can be worse than the original headache. Now research has proved that pain observation is true.
Here’s a prescription for mind and body: Manage your stress; live, laugh and Let it go.
For more information on caregiving read my book, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout. To listen to archived radio shows with guest experts visit Turn On Your Inner Light Radio Show