(NaturalNews) Painkillers not only have no effect on preventing mental decline in patients with family histories of Alzheimer's disease, they may actually accelerate it, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and published in the Archives of Neurology.
Some researchers have suggested that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen may decrease the risk of Alzheimer's by reducing inflammation in the brain that might be linked to the disease. But the current research found no evidence for this claim.
"The drugs we studied did not seem to improve cognitive function and, if anything, there was some weak evidence for a detrimental effect," said researcher Barbara Martin. "So we don't at this time recommend taking NSAIDs for the purpose of preventing Alzheimer's or cognitive decline."
The researchers examined 2,117 people over the age of 70 who had a family history of Alzheimer's disease but were not exhibiting any symptoms of dementia. Participants were given either 200 milligrams of Celebrex, 220 milligrams of naproxen, or a placebo two times per day.
Naproxen is also marketed as Aleve and Naprosyn.
The researchers were forced to halt the trial early, after less than three years, when other researchers discovered that Celebrex raised the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Based on tests of cognitive function given once per year, neither Celebrex nor naproxen decreased the rate of cognitive decline compared to a placebo. On the contrary, participants taking naproxen had lower scores for overall cognitive function than those taking a placebo. Those taking either painkiller also scored lower on one specific test of cognitive function.
John Morris, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Washington University School of Medicine, warned that people should not start taking drugs just based on a rumored benefit.
"Drugs potentially have side effects and unless there's a documented benefit, just because it's popular, I wouldn't rush to do that," he said.