Nearly 80% of Americans report that they use ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The perceived effectiveness and safety of these OTC medications have made them the casual go-to for aches, pains, and a variety of other common maladies.
But is ibuprofen as safe as we’ve been led to believe? A new study suggests that the answer is a resounding no.
We’ve covered some of the risks and disadvantages of NSAID’s in past articles. It’s well-known that these “safe” drugs routinely cause ulcers and gastrointestinal damage—and that such side effects occur in up to 25% of all individuals, according to one study.
And that’s just the beginning. Studies have clearly demonstrated that ibuprofen usage is associated with other severe side effects, including anemia, miscarriage, DNA damage, hearing loss (especially in men), hypertension, increased risk of influenza mortality, and more.
Ibuprofen and other NSAID’s are linked to the deaths of thousands of Americans every year.
To make matters worse, NSAID’s don’t even come close to treating the root causes of pain—all those nasty risks and side effects only amount to temporary relief. Natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric, ginger, CoQ10, magnesium, and vitamin D correct inflammation at its source, and provide relief without any side effects.
Perhaps the most frightening potential “side effect” of ibuprofen is sudden cardiac arrest
Ibuprofen is not harmless
Perhaps the most frightening potential “side effect” of ibuprofen is sudden cardiac arrest. That’s right: popping those so-called harmless painkillers can stop your heart.
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death among adults over 40 in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are stricken with it every year, and nine out of ten of these people die from it. However, despite ample data (and the existence of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation), the causes of this fatal condition are still considered to be “unknown.”
Yet some experts have long-feared that uncontrolled NSAID consumption was at least partially to blame. Researchers uncovered the cardiovascular risks of ibuprofen and other OTC pain medications years ago; one meta-analysis concluded that ibuprofen can increase the risk of heart attack by up to a third (and it can double risk for heavy users).
Remember the 2004 recall of the drug Vioxx, which contributed to 30,000 cases of heart attack and SCA? Referencing the study cited above, Reuters and other sources commented that heavy, long-term use of painkillers such an ibuprofen is just as hazardous as Vioxx with regard to heart attack risk.
Why, then, hasn’t there been a move to take NSAIDs off the market, or at least to regulate their sale and use? It probably has something to do with the billions of dollars that the pharmaceutical industry rakes in from these popular pills. Advil alone generates a half a billion dollars every year in the United States—the gross revenue including generic brands and international sales is far more staggering.
Pharmaceutical companies work hard to convince the public that NSAID’s are safe, and to obfuscate research data that incriminates their product—but the correlations are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. A new study published in the European Heart Journal confirms the serious cardiovascular risks of consuming ibuprofen.
A new study published in the European Heart Journal confirms the serious cardiovascular risks of consuming ibuprofen
Its title sums things up clearly: “Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use is associated with increased risk of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: a nationalwide case-time-control study.”
Researchers studied 28,947 cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest over the course of a decade, and found that a majority of the patients were heavily treated with NSAID’s within thirty days of the event. They concluded that ibuprofen increases the risk of SCA by a frightening 31%. The prescription NSAID diclofenac (sold under the brand name Voltaren) increases the risk by 50%.
The researchers behind this study call their findings “a stark reminder that NSAIDs are not harmless.” They caution that the results of the study should be taken seriously, and that NSAIDs should only be used when absolutely necessary (and never by patients with confirmed contraindications, such as heart disease).
While they stop short of calling for stricter regulations on NSAIDs, the researchers clearly state that their ease of access is not commensurate with their risks, and the public should not be led to believe that these drugs can be taken casually or frequently.
Sadly, though, we shouldn’t expect these findings to be integrated into the body of conventional medical wisdom anytime soon. Most doctors will continue to recommend ibuprofen, and individuals who don’t know the grave risks of NSAIDs will continue to manage their pain with OTC pills.
Instead of waiting for the agonizingly slow transformation of mainstream medicine, though, we can make changes now. Only use ibuprofen and other NSAIDs when absolutely necessary.