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Athletes At Risk From Ibuprofen Use?

December 2012:  Many athletes use ibuprofen to control the aches and pains of sports participation and exercise.  However, a recent study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests that this common practice may in fact be harmful rather than helpful.  This study looked specifically at the prophylactic, or "preventive" use of ibuprofen among cyclists.  Up to 70% of athletes take ibuprofen preventively before exercise, thinking it will reduce the risk of post-workout soreness.  This study found that when participants took ibuprofen prophylactically before exercise, there was evidence of leakage from their small intestines.  With daily use, intestinal integrity may be compromised, allowing bacteria to leak into the blood stream.  In the short term, post-activity recovery may be compromised as the body is less able to absorb nutrients.

Although the long-term implications of this research are not yet clear, this is not the first study to suggest that use of ibuprofen among athletes may cause intestinal damage.  In fact this study joins a growing body of evidence suggesting that for healthy individuals, there may be more reasons to avoid taking ibuprofen than reasons to to take it.  To learn more, read this article from The New York Times.

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Last Updated: 8/1/13