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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Boston Globe Health and Science staff:
Karen Weintraub, Deputy Health and Science Editor, and Gideon Gil, Health and Science Editor.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Arthritis drugs don't appear to work against Alzheimer's
By Alice Dembner, Globe Staff
Daily doses of the anti-inflammatory drugs Aleve or Celebrex did not prevent Alzheimer's in a national study published online today that included 424 people in the Greater Boston area.
But the government-funded study is far from definitive, because the drugs were given to people late in life and because the study was halted midway amid concerns that the drugs were linked to higher rates of heart disease.
The lack of a prevention benefit wasn't the only bad news in the study. There were hints that the pills "may even accelerate the appearance of the disease," said Dr. Robert C. Green of Boston University, who directed the Boston arm of the study.
The study, designed to last seven years, was stopped in its fourth year. Many of the participants had only taken the drugs for two years.
The results, published in the journal Neurology, were based on 2,128 people age 70 or older with a family history of Alzheimer's.
Researchers still hold out the possibility that other anti-inflammatory drugs, taken at an earlier age, might prevent dementia, but they urged individuals not to take these pills for that purpose.