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Recently there have been reports that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have shown a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Principally, the NSAID drugs naproxen and celecoxib have been cited as improving cognitive function in older adults with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Disease Anti-Inflammatory Prevention Trial (ADAPT) Research Group studied 2,117 individuals, 70 years and older, who have a family history of Alzheimer’s. For 3 years the participants were tested annually for cognitive function.

  • 29% were given 200 milligrams of celecoxib twice daily.
  • 28% were given 220 milligrams of naproxen sodium twice daily.
  • 43% were given a placebo.

Six months after the study was terminated (because another study found celecoxib increased cardiovascular risks) the use of NSAIDs did not show a protective effect and in fact naproxen users had a lower cognitive assessment score when compared to celecoxib and the placebo.

Why the difference? Several explanations were offered:

  • Previous studies analyzed behavior rather than assigning subjects to treatment groups.
  • Factors not measured in the previous study may have confounded or affected the results.
  • The findings of this study apply only to celecoxib and naproxen.
  • NSAIDs may be protective only when given several years before the decline of cognitive function.

Researchers conclude that naproxen and celecoxib should not be used for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

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