Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of the popular TV show “The Dr. Oz Show.” He is a professor in the Department of Surgery at Columbia University and directs the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program and New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Dr. Mike Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, an award-winning author, and has been the doctor to eight Nobel Prize winners and more than 100 Fortune 500 CEOs.


Dr. Mehmet Oz,Dr. Mike Roizen

Tags: NSAIDs | over the counter | painkillers | aspirin | ibuprofen | heart | risk

How Safe Are Over-the-Counter Painkillers?

Tuesday, 04 Mar 2014 09:05 AM

When Texas legend Red Adair capped an oil-well fire, he detonated explosives to deprive the inferno of fuel. But when inflammation rages in your body, you may choose a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as COX-2 inhibitors (coxibs), ibuprofen or naproxen, to extinguish the pain. (Aspirin is also an NSAID, but more about it later.)

You may have heard how risky almost all NSAIDs are, especially if you regularly take high doses: They can cause gastrointestinal woes and cardiovascular complications, such as heart attack.

The exception? We know aspirin offers protection from arterial diseases, including heart attack and stroke, as well as from nine types of cancer. (You can help protect your GI tract by taking aspirin with a glass of warm water before and after.) But up to now, no one had figured out the unique risks and benefits of the other NSAIDs. So it's great news that, thanks to three major metastudies, there's finally SOME credible info about those other NSAIDs' differing qualities.

High-dose coxibs, diclofenac and ibuprofen may increase heart attack or stroke risk by about 33 percent. Heart failure risk is doubled with all non-aspirin NSAIDs. And a Food and Drug Administration panel evaluating NSAID risks voted 16 to 9 against the suggestion that naproxen causes fewer cardiovascular problems than other NSAIDs.

So, if you're taking a NSAID, talk to your doc about the risk versus reward of specific medications. We like the pain-relieving powers of meditation and cognitive therapy, weight loss and appropriate exercise (whether your pain is from arthritis or another condition), and taking 900 IU daily of anti-inflammatory DHA omega-3.

© King Features Syndicate

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