If you have a headache, it’s likely you’ll find a painkiller like paracetamol or ibuprofen in the cupboard. These pills are such a normal part of our lives, we barely think about popping a couple to soothe our ailments.
However, in recent years, ibuprofen in particular has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, meaning we should be more cautious when taking anti-inflammatory drugs.
According to a new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), men who take ibuprofen for months at a time could also be putting their fertility at risk.
Researchers recruited 31 healthy young men (18 to 35 years old) to take part in the study. They looked at the impact of ibuprofen on their health over six weeks, by performing tests on cells and tissue samples.
After six weeks, the men who took ibuprofen had disrupted production of their male sex hormones, which led to a condition called “compensated hypogonadism.”
The condition is normally seen in older men and smokers, and is caused by the body having to boost testosterone levels because normal production in the testes is insufficient. Tests showed their testosterone levels hadn’t changed, although the testes weren’t producing adequate levels. This is because the pituitary gland — the region of the brain associated with producing — had ramped up testosterone production.
Compensated hypogonadism can lead to fertility issues, muscle wastage, and erectile dysfunction. Luckily, in the test subjects the condition was mild, but the researchers said people should be concerned if they use anti-inflammatory drugs regularly over long periods of time.
Painkiller raises blood pressure in arthritis sufferers
The warning was issued yesterday by scientists during a conference in Barcelona on cardiovascular disease.
Delegates were told new research has revealed that ibuprofen – one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the world – increased blood pressure more than other non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
The over-the-counter tablet is often the choice for millions in the UK who suffer from the agony of arthritic pain every day.
Researchers at the University Heart Centre in Zurich studied a number of pain relief drugs, which included ibuprofen, naproxen and celecoxib and found a pronounced risk of increased blood pressure in the ibuprofen users, adding to the risk of heart disease and stroke.