Time magazine has done a series over the last couple years on the dangers of taking over the counter medications for pain like Ibuprofen and naproxen (Alleve). These medicines are used heavily throughout the world for pain, and many people do not even think of them as medications any more. Partly because they are so easy to get and inexpensive (Costco sells a bottle of 1000 tablets for $8.79!), people end up taking them ¨like candy¨ as some people have described their intake.
The main side effect of these drugs has been known for some time to be Gastrointestinal bleeding, often from ulcers in the stomach or upper small intestine. It is estimated that around 100,000 people are hospitalized for this annually in the US and anywhere from 3500 to 15,000 people die from this each year (It is difficult to determine exactly how many deaths are related to taking this). Some of the findings reported recently in Time include links with Heart Failure, Kidney Problems, Hearing Loss, and Male Infertility. If you or someone you know takes these drugs regularly, I would encourage you to read these articles and think about is the risk vs reward worth it. We do have natural alternatives for pain that are effective and are much safer, even for long term usage.
One of my pet peeves in medicine is that any time a negative study comes out about a nutrient or herb causing a problem, it makes the front page of the news. It is important to note when an herb can cause a negative reaction, but these stories are often poorly verified or only studied in a few people and everyone becomes overly fearful of using a particular herb. At the same time, we know that these supposedly safe over the counter medications are hospitalizing and killing thousands a year. I am glad that Time magazine is reporting these stories as usually they are rarely talked about.
In reviewing this information, I found an infographic that I have posted below that summarizes these findings quite well. It is reposted here with permission. I think it summarizes the current data quite well.