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24.08.2008


Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are anabolic for seventy year olds

Men and women of seventy who do weight training build up more muscle and strength if they use painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Researchers from Ball State University reported this during the Experimental Biology 2008 congress on April 6 in San Diego.

The researchers did an experiment with sixty men and women aged between 60 and 78. The test subjects had to train three times a week at a fitness centre. They trained their upper legs by doing leg extensions. After twelve weeks the researchers measured the progress of their subjects.

One group took placebos; another took ibuprofen and the third group took acetaminophen. The subjects took the manufacturers' recommended doses. The table below shows the effect of the painkillers on the subjects' progress.


Placebo

Ibuprofen
1.2 g per day

Acetaminophen
4 g per day

Quadriceps muscle volume

+9 percent

+11 percent

+13 percent

Muscle strength

+23 percent

+30 percent

+28 percent


"Chronic consumption of ibuprofen or acetaminophen during resistance training appears to have induced intramuscular changes that enhance the metabolic response to resistance exercise", says researcher Todd Trappe in a press release. [Ball State University 4/7/2008] "This allows the body to add substantially more new protein to muscle."

Trappe is amazed at the finding. In earlier studies, people in their twenties showed less progress if they used ibuprofen or acetaminophen. The painkillers lowered their skeletal muscle protein fractional synthesis rate after a training session, Trappe reported in an article published in 2002. [Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Mar; 282(3):E551-6.] The figure below is from that publication. The test subjects took the same doses of painkillers as the elderly in Trappes' latest study.

Men and women of seventy who do weight training build up more muscle and strength if they use painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Researchers from Ball State University reported this during the Experimental Biology 2008 congress on April 6 in San Diego.

The painkillers tested reduce the activity of the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX) in the muscles. The production of this enzyme increases after muscles have been subjected to physical effort.

Reducing this enzyme's action in young people appears to reduce muscle building as well, but in the elderly it actually strengthens the growth stimulus. But why this is so, the researchers don't know.

Sources:
The FASEB Journal. 2008; 22:753.31.
Press Release Ball State University 4/7/2008.
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Mar; 282(3):E551-6.