Every week, new studies emerge proving the health benefits of adding or removing foods, medications and exercises from your daily routine; this week focused on over-the-counter pain relievers.

During the week of February 15, two studies emerged touting the health benefits of aspirin for decreasing the risk of breast cancer and ibuprofen helping to ward off Parkinson's disease. However a new study published in the March edition of The American Journal of Medicine, the official academic journal of the Association of Professors of Medicine, concluded, "regular use of aspirin, NSAIDs, or acetaminophen increases the risk of hearing loss in men, and the impact is larger on younger individuals."

Don't take aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen regularly - to avoid increasing risk of hearing loss in men

A new collaborative study from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard University, Vanderbilt University and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston found the regular use, two or more times a week, of over-the-counter pain relievers increases the risk of loss of hearing in men between the ages 40-75 with those under 50 having the greatest risk. The comprehensive 24-year study monitored men's use of over-the-counter pain relievers and hearing and found "regular aspirin and NSAID users were older and acetaminophen users were younger than nonregular users. It was common for an individual to use more than one type of analgesic regularly" and "the risk of hearing loss in men [had a larger] impact on younger individuals". http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343%2809%2900795-5/fulltext

Do use aspirin if you have breast cancer (women)

Aspirin, a generic over-the-counter pain reliever, often recommended in low doses to ward off heart attacks and strokes was "associated  with a decreased risk of breast cancer death" by a team of researchers at Harvard during a 30-year study. The study was published February 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology: http://jco.ascopubs.org/cgi/content/abstract/JCO.2009.22.7918v1

Do take ibuprofen to help prevent Parkinson's disease

Another study from Harvard has found that, "ibuprofen was the only NSAID linked to a lower risk of Parkinson's," said Xiang Gao, MD, with Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. "Other NSAIDs and analgesics, including aspirin and acetaminophen, did not appear to have any effect on lowering a person's risk of developing Parkinson's." The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto April 10 to April 17.

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