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Anti-inflammatory drugs and Alzheimer's disease

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 14 August 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:353
  1. Christopher Martyn, clinical scientist (
  1. Medical Research Council Environmental Epidemiology Unit, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD

    Evidence implying a protective effect is as yet tentative

    The first inkling that anti-inflammatory drugs might lessen the risk of Alzheimer's disease came from an observation that people with rheumatoid arthritis had an unexpectedly low prevalence of dementia.1 It was an imaginative idea, but the evidence that gave rise to it was far from secure. More data have now accumulated, but the matter remains unsettled. Surveys in France and Australia, for example, failed to find any protective effect from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. On the other hand, the Rotterdam study, a longitudinal, population based investigation of nearly 7000 middle aged and elderly people, reported a considerable reduction in risk of Alzheimer's disease in those who had taken these drugs for two years or longer, although the reduction in risk was less and did not reach statistical significance for people who had used them for shorter periods. …

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