Many people around the world take a daily dose of baby aspirin to help ward off heart attacks. Well, as it turns out, a daily dose of the non-prescription painkiller ibuprofen (Advil) can similarly prevent Alzheimer's disease.
The new study, conducted by a team of Canadian neuroscientists, found that ibuprofen could help susceptible people stave off Alzheimer's disease by targeting inflammation tied to proteins that build up in the brain, which are precursors to the memory-robbing disease.
The researchers, led by Dr Patrick McGeer, have also developed a saliva test that can measure levels of the proteins as a way to identify people at risk who may benefit from taking ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) years before symptoms of Alzheimer's disease emerge.
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Elevated Abeta42 levels are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease...
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia
. The Alzheimer’s disease Association estimates that more than five million Americans suffer from the disease, and that a new case is identified every 66 seconds.
People with two to three times high than normal levels of the peptide amyloid beta protein 42 (Abeta42) are likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. These proteins accumulate in the brain, leading to inflammation, gum brain and communication between brain cells and, ultimately, death.
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Abeta42 is secreted in saliva, so saliva tests may be able to predict Alzheimer’s disease
Dr McGeer, president and CEO of Vancouver-based Aurin Biotech Inc, said his latest research is based on measuring the concentration of Abeta42, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and is also secreted in saliva. According to Dr McGeer, as little as one teaspoon of saliva is enough to predict whether a person is likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and may benefit from taking NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen.
“What we’ve learned through our research is that people who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s exhibit the same elevated Abeta42 levels as people who already have it; moreover, they exhibit those elevated levels throughout their lifetime so, theoretically, they could get tested anytime,” Dr McGeer explained.
He continued: “Knowing that the prevalence of clinical Alzheimer’s Disease commences at age 65, we recommend that people get tested 10 years before, at age 55, when the onset of Alzheimer’s would typically begin. If they exhibit elevated Abeta42 levels then, that is the time to begin taking daily ibuprofen to ward off the disease.”
Dr McGeer added that most clinical trials of new Alzheimer’s disease treatments involve patients who are already experiencing symptoms: “When the therapeutic opportunities in this late stage of the disease are minimal, which is why every therapeutic trial has failed to arrest the disease’s progression.”
Dr McGeer’s team’s findings offer potential for fighting off Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms surface, making treatment success more likely. They published their full findings in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
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