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Nonsteroidals Delay Healing

Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen help to reduce pain and also help to prevent and treat certain types of cancers, heart attacks, strokes and Alzheimer's disease, but they have a down side. They may cause injuries to take longer to heal.

Injured muscles and tissues release certain prostaglandins that cause pain. Doctors prescribe aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen to block these prostaglandins that cause pain, but these same prostaglandins also help wounds to heal by releasing chemicals that cause extra blood vessels to be laid down to repair the damaged cells. So drugs that block pain often delay healing.

Some cancer tumors release chemicals that go into the bloodstream and cause new blood vessels to grow and supply nutrients to that cancer. Drugs that block new blood vessel growth may help control and prevent these types of cancers. For example, ibuprofen helps to prevent colon cancer. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also help to prevent Alzheimer's disease, senility caused by ministrokes in the brain because these drugs help to prevent clots that block blood flow to the brain. However, people who take nonsteroidals regularly may find that injuries heal more slowly.

MK Jones, HT Wang, BM Peskar, E Levin, RM Itani, IJ Sarfeh, AS Tarnawski. Inhibition of angiogenesis by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: Insight into mechanisms and implications for cancer growth and ulcer healing. Nature Medicine, 1999, Vol 5, Iss 12, pp 1418-1423.

Checked 8/31/05

May 12th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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