A breakthrough in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease may be on the horizon, thanks to researchers who believe a common painkiller may prevent this killer from striking.
It sounds pretty brazen, but Dr. Patrick McGeer, a Canadian neuroscientist, says that if a daily dose of the painkiller ibuprofen is begun early enough, this might be able to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
What?! Ibuprofen As a Preventive for Alzheimer’s Disease?
Yes, that’s what Dr. McGeer, who’s been studying Alzheimer’s disease for 30 years, says in his report.
In 2016, Dr. McGeer and his team made the announcement that a simple saliva test can diagnose AD as well as predict its future onset in asymptomatic people.
The saliva test measures the concentration of Abeta42, the peptide amyloid beta protein that accumulates in the brains of AD patients.
In most people the rate of Abeta42 is the same regardless of age. But if the rate is two to three times greater, these individuals will likely develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Abeta42 is made everywhere in the body but accumulates in the brain of AD patients.
The peptide is secreted by saliva, and with just one teaspoon of saliva, Dr. McGeer believes it’s possible to predict an eventual onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
People who are found to be at risk for eventual onset have the same level of Abeta42 in their saliva as do people already diagnosed with AD, says the report.
Dr. McGeer points out that such individuals show this elevated Abeta42 throughout their lifetime, and hence, can be tested for it at any time.
“Knowing that the prevalence of clinical Alzheimer’s Disease commences at age 65, we recommend that people get tested ten years before, at age 55,” says Dr. McGeer in the report, “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.”
This intervention would not work on someone who already has symptoms.
“We now have a simple test that can indicate if a person is fated to develop Alzheimer’s disease long before it begins to develop,” continues Dr. McGeer in the paper (Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, March 2018).
He goes on to explain that this “true breakthrough” paves the road to where AD can be “eventually eliminated.”
Does any of this sound too good to be true?
Certainly, more research is warranted, particularly large-scale investigations.
“This study specifically looks at a level of beta amyloid peptide in the saliva,” says Dr. Robert Williams, MD, a family medicine doctor and geriatrician, and medical advisor for eMediHealth.
Dr. Williams was not involved with this interesting study, but one of his areas of focus is dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
He explains, “This particular peptide (peptide is basically a small protein) is responsible for inflammation.
“They noticed that the level of this peptide correlated with a higher risk for dementia.
“Since the peptide causes inflammation, ibuprofen use was shown to reduce this inflammation and thus reduce alzheimer dementia risk in these specific people.
“This does not explain any risks or benefits to people without high levels of this peptide who also are at risk for dementia.
“This study should not be interpreted in a way that suggests all people should start taking ibuprofen every day to prevent dementia.
“Ibuprofen has its own risks which are amplified in the elderly (gastric bleeding, kidney failure, etc.) and should be treated as a prescription drug with use only in consultation with a physician.”
What can you do in the meantime?
Large-scale investigations show a link between keeping physically and intellectually active and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. A plant based diet is also implicated, via research, in a lower risk.
Thus, for now, you can exercise more, challenge your brain more and cut back on processed foods. Do not start taking ibuprofen on a pre-emptive basis to prevent dementia.