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Ibuprofen and Other NSAIDs Kill 2,500 a Year in the UK

Monday, April 05, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: NSAIDs, ibuprofen, health news

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(NaturalNews) As many as 2,500 people per year die in the United Kingdom each year from stomach bleeding, a well-known side effect of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen.

NSAIDs function by blocking the action of bodily chemicals known as prostaglandins, which produce inflammation in response to illness or injury. This causes a reduction in pain, inflammation and fever symptoms in those who take the drugs, and has made them among the most popular over-the-counter drugs in the world.

But prostaglandins also play important roles in protecting the stomach's lining from being corroded by its own digestive juices. This is why use of NSAIDs can cause ulcers and dangerous stomach bleeding, and are meant to be avoided by people at high risk of the conditions -- such as those with a prior history of stomach bleeding.

Medical guidelines also suggest that in people at above average risk of severe bleeds, such as those over the age of 65 or already taking another NSAID, NSAIDs be given only in conjunction with a prescription drug to protect the stomach lining. Yet in the United Kingdom, three-quarters of this population takes NSAIDs without a prescription for omeprazole, the favored anti-bleeding drug, says Dr. Mark Potter, writing in the London Times.

Potentially fatal stomach bleeds can set on without any prior warning symptoms.

Potter notes that while bleeding may be the most infamous NSAID risk, interfering with the body's prostaglandins can have other severe consequences. The chemicals also play an important role in ovulation and the implantation of fertilized eggs. As a consequence, NSAID use can interfere with conception and is not recommended in women who are trying to or already have become pregnant. When taken during pregnancy, NSAIDs can also delay and lengthen labor, and may interfere with the development of a child's respiratory or circulatory system, causing lifelong health problems.

NSAIDs also cause the body to retain fluids, which may lead to kidney damage. They also increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Sources for this story include: www.timesonline.co.uk.

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