Painkillers are commonplace and a staple in many homes. Most are perfectly safe and are an effective way to help treat pain. However, some could be increasing a number of different health concerns, warns of new research
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Ibuprofen is a type of painkiller, specifically a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
It can be bought from local pharmacies and shops.
It is used to treat toothache, back pain, period pain, sprains and strains. It can be very effective in tablet, capsule, granulated or liquid form.
The popular pain killer works by reducing hormones in the body that are known to cause pain and swelling.
Despite its ability to help ease painful symptoms, the drug has also been linked to other serious diseases.
Despite only being tested on animals in new research, experts warn of its possible danger.
NSAIDs such as ibuprofen are widely used to help treat pain and inflammation.
However, some have unexpected and unexplained effects on many serious diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
A new Yale-led study on mice published in the journal Immunity have further investigated how these NSAIDs affect the body.
Previous research has often hailed NSAIDs for their ability to help prevent heart disease. Some NSAIDs have been linked to decreased incidence of bowel cancer, and various NSAIDs can have a wide range of effects on asthma.
Researchers used cell cultures and mice to uncover a distinct mechanism that may explain some of those potentially life-threatening effects.
The research showed that only some NSAIDs such as ibuprofen activate a protein which, among its many actions, triggers anti-inflammatory processes in the body.
This causes damage to the cells which then release chemicals causing blood vessels to leak fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling.
“Over time, chronic inflammation may damage DNA, leading to conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancer,” explains the Cancer Centre.
Inflammation may also promote the growth of plaques in your arteries and trigger blood clots, which can in turn cause heart disease.
“NSAIDs can increase the risk of a heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure, whether you already have heart disease or not, although the risk is greater in those who have heart disease,” added the Mayo Clinic.
The discovery still needs to be confirmed in humans.
Anna Eisenstein, an instructor at the Yale School of Medicine and lead author of the study, said: “It’s interesting and exciting that NSAIDs have a different mode of action than what was known previously.
“And because people use NSAIDs so frequently, it’s important we know what they’re doing in the body.”
Professor Peter Weissberg, former medical director at the British Heart Foundation, added: “It has been known for some years now that such drugs need to be used with caution in patients with, or at high risk of, heart disease. This applies mostly to those who take them on a daily basis rather than only occasionally.
“Since heart and joint problems often coexist, particularly in the elderly, this study serves as a reminder to doctors to consider carefully how they prescribe NSAIDs, and to patients that they should only take the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.
“They should discuss their treatment with their GP if they have any concerns.”