New Study: Ibuprofen (Advil) Shown To Extend Life

PlantsNotPills2That doesn’t mean we should take ibuprofen (a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory or NSAID). But it does point to a possible benefit of a vegan diet.

According to the FDA, the whole class of NSAIDS (e.g. Advil, Aleve, Motrin, Celebrex) raise risk for heart attack and stroke. There is a warning label to this effect on every bottle; the FDA is considering making it more bold to emphasize its risk for even short-term use. An FDA panel that convened last February stated “there was no latency period [for heart risk] with the NSAID class,” and there was “no period in which the cardiovascular risks were nonexistent.” Any dose taken for any length of time could result in a heart attack, especially in someone with heart disease. Curiously, few articles I read about this study, including the study itself, made that warning prominent. To the contrary, they said ibuprofen was “safe.” NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can also cause ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestine.

Back to this study. When researchers fed ibuprofen (an amount equivalent to less than a 200 mg tablet of Advil for humans) to yeast, nematode worms, and fruit flies, they lived between 10-17% longer. Here are some links:

The study:
Enhanced Longevity by Ibuprofen, Conserved in Multiple Species, Occurs in Yeast through Inhibition of Tryptophan Import, PLOS Genetics, 18 December 2014

“Overall, these results suggest that ibuprofen extends lifespan across different kingdoms of life”

News Articles:
Is Ibuprofen The Key To A Longer Life? Study Finds It May Provide 12 Extra Years Of Good Health
Could A Common Pain Reliever Be The Secret To Longer Life?
Ibuprofen Boosts Some Organisms’ Life Spans

This is one of those studies that, as I said, people dismiss outright because it’s not done on humans. They don’t read the study, the abstract, the press release, news summaries. No discussion, no curiosity. If it’s not in humans, it doesn’t apply to them. It’s a shame, because this particular study is shining a light on, not ibuprofen per se, but the effect of limiting amino acids, and so, of a vegan diet:

We show that the critical function of ibuprofen in longevity is to inhibit the uptake of aromatic amino acids.

Caloric restriction has been shown to extend life in several species. An alternative to caloric restriction was found to be protein restriction. Still further research narrowed it down to amino acid restriction, e.g. the sulfur-containing methionine for one.1 Vegetarians experience various amino acid restrictions because they don’t get their protein from animal sources. Also, their total protein intake is often lower than that of omnivores. I wrote about this at Protein Restriction and Longevity.

Limiting amino acids may be considered a form of biological stress which results in increasing life span. The Science article above discussed this:

Numerous studies have found that instead of killing organisms, moderate amounts of stress — such as intermediate doses of radiation or toxic chemicals — actually increase life span. A mild tryptophan deficiency triggered by ibuprofen might work in the same way, the researchers speculate. “We figure it’s one more type of stress that seems to be conducive to life span,” Polymenis says.

In Dr. Campbell’s discussion of animal protein and cancer, he said:

The adverse effects of animal protein, as illustrated in our laboratory by the effects of casein, are related to their amino acid composition, not to the effects of pasteurization, homogenization, or of the presence of hormones, pesticides, etc. Even though pasteurization and homogenization may cause slight changes in the physical characteristics of proteins, I know of no evidence where amino acid contents are altered by these treatments. This is important because it shows that there will be no difference in the biological effects of animal based protein from grass-fed or feed lot fed animals. Moreover, the casein that we used in our extensive experiments was before hormones were introduced and before factory farming became the norm, thus it mostly represented animals that were grass fed.

Wheat and soy proteins for example did not stimulate cancer development and when wheat protein, which is deficient in the amino acid lysine, was replenished with lysine, it acted just like casein. There have been literally thousands of studies going back many decades showing a similar effect of animal and plant based proteins on body growth and other events associated with body growth–all resulting from their differences in amino acid compositions.
Grass-Fed Animal Agriculture, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

There is a credible effect on longevity from limiting amino acids. This study adds to the body of evidence. But you don’t need to pop a pill to get the benefit, you can just eat a diet that gets its protein from plants instead of animals.

1 The Low-methionine Content Of Vegan Diets May Make Methionine Restriction Feasible As A Life Extension Strategy, February 2009

One thought on “New Study: Ibuprofen (Advil) Shown To Extend Life

  1. Pingback: More On Health Benefits Of Restricting Protein | Fanatic Cook

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