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High doses of ibuprofen cause significant GI bleeding, despite safety profile

Bethesda, Maryland (Nov. 1, 2005) People who take high doses of ibuprofen on a regular basis are three times more likely to experience gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding than those who do not take painkillers. Results of a small, retrospective analysis published today in the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology show that significant GI bleeding can be observed as early as three days after starting an ibuprofen regimen in otherwise healthy people--giving credence to the belief that high doses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), no matter the safety profile, are likely to cause gastrointestinal bleeding that can be harmful to the digestive system.

"Unfortunately, people dealing with chronic pain, such as arthritis, often increase the recommended dose of their painkillers and they should be aware that the effects on the GI tract can be serious," said Richard H. Hunt, MD, senior study author from the McMaster University Health Science Centre. "Of all the NSAIDs available over-the-counter, ibuprofen was thought to have the least harmful effects on the GI tract. However, our study shows that healthy, young people and older people are at great risk of internal bleeding and should speak with their doctor to determine the risks of taking large amounts of ibuprofen."

Researchers from the McMaster University Health Science Centre in Ontario, Canada conducted a post-hoc analysis of two separate randomized studies that included 68 healthy volunteers who were given either four weeks of an ibuprofen regimen (800 mg, three times daily for 28 days) or a placebo--a dosage amount twice that of the recommended 1200 mg per day. Prior to starting the regimen, patients were evaluated for a one-week control period to demonstrate that they were not bleeding. Blood loss was determined in these subjects by conducting a radioactive analysis of Chromium-51 labeled red blood cells in stool during
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Contact: Kimberly Wise
media@gastro.org
301-941-2620
American Gastroenterological Association
1-Nov-2005


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