Spotted in this mornings’ Metro, page 11, in a small corner box:
TAKING ibuprofen could cut the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by a third, according to new research. Taking the over-the-counter drug two or three times a week may reduce inflammation in the brain that contributes to Parkinson’s, scientists from Harvard School of Public Health said.
That’s the entire text – no further refernce provided and actually a bit misleading as crammed into the middle of another health related post.
As a skeptic I have a problem with this, not because I think this is bunk [I don’t and I’m actually rather interested and excited about the study] – No – I have a problem with the way it is reported.
The wee paragraph is referring to a very recent study, published yesterday, by Dr. Xiang Gao in The Neurologist
. Searching Ibuprofen and Parkinsons almost produces a googlewhack [very little results, for those who haven’t watched Gorman].
This has a reason – his study has been published here, where it is most likely to be read by the colleagues of his profession, so called peer-review. Just like any other newly discovered co-relation this is a very interesting find – but that is all it is for now.
The conclusion of the summary of the study reads:
The association between use of ibuprofen and lower PD risks, not shared by other NSAIDs or acetaminophen, suggests ibuprofen should be further investigated as a potential neuroprotective agent against PD.
Why am I bringing this up ?
Because the short paragraph in the Metro, with it’s little reference, basically tells people that it was discovered that an over the counter drug, when taken frequently for no accute reasons may safe them from doom of a terrible disease.
Ibuprofen is such a common part of household medicines these days that people don’t tend to have too many concerns about taking it any more.
I’m not saying that it’s terribly dangerous and I do really not have the highest opinion about people who proclaim all pharmaceuticals are evil and “toxic”, but there is more than one coast on this island where you can run of a cliff.
This is how common household-myths start. Some reporters come accross a new and exciting study and use a summary of the jist to fill the blank spot of the page and soon people are popping pills because it is common knowledge that your daily dose of Ibuprofen can prevent evil …. until overdose cases pointing at harmful side effects turn up in the gutter and another, this time possibly bigger news item can be written about how the drug turned out to be oh so evil and the public was not informed about what side effects were known and the blame, most likely, will hit the original publishers, the small, unsigned paragraph of the Metro laying forgotten….
Note: This post expresses my personal concerns on sloppy reporting. This is not meant to be a discussion on whether or not ibuprofen is a save drug and what it’s side effects are.