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Painkillers offer new hope to Parkinson's sufferers

A painkiller taken by millions may protect against Parkinson's and even slow progression of the disease, research suggests.

Findings from a large study in the US showed that ibuprofen, widely marketed in Ireland as Nurofen, lowered the risk of developing Parkinson's disease by as much as 38pc.

Other pain-relieving medicines, such as aspirin, naproxen and diclofenac, did not have the same effect.

Researchers believe ibuprofen may have a unique ability to protect the brain cells that are lost by Parkinson's patients.


But experts warn that excessive use of ibuprofen can lead to harmful side effects, such as gastro-intestinal bleeding.

The scientists analysed data from more than 37,000 male health professionals and almost 99,000 female nurses.

Over a six-year period, 156 men and 135 women were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Participants' use of medicines known as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) was recorded along with other information such as age, smoking habits, and diet. The results showed that those who took ibuprofen two or more times a week were 38pc less likely to develop Parkinson's.

Dr Xiang Gao, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, said: "Our findings suggest that ibuprofen could be a potential neuroprotective agent against Parkinson's disease, however the exact mechanism is unknown.