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Study: Anti-Inflammatories Negate Muscle Growth

The long-term use of over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory drugs can inhibit muscle growth in young, healthy individuals engaging in weight training, according to a new study from Karolinska Institutet.

Most mild analgesic and antipyretic OTC drugs, apart from paracetamol, are of the NSAID (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) kind.

In the present study, healthy 18 to 35-year-old men and women were randomly assigned to two groups, one that took a relatively high dose of NSAID (1,200 mg ibuprofen, which is a normal 24-hour dose) and one a relatively low dose (75 mg acetylsalicylic acid) every day for eight weeks.

During the same period, the participants also engaged in supervised weight-training exercises for the thigh muscles two to three times a week.

The researchers then measured certain variables, such as muscle growth, muscle strength and anti-inflammatory markers in the muscles.

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It was found that after eight weeks, the increase in muscle volume, as measured by MR imaging, was twice as large in the low-dose aspirin group as in the high-dose ibuprofen group.

Principal investigator Tommy Lundberg said: “The results are extremely interesting since the use of anti-inflammatory drugs is so globally widespread, not least amongst elite athletes and recreationally active individuals.

“We chose to look at the effect of ibuprofen as it is the most well-studied anti-inflammatory drug on the market, but we believe that high doses of all types of OTC NSAIDs have similar effects.”

Muscle strength was also impaired with high doses of anti-inflammatory drugs, but not to such a pronounced extent.

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