For Athletes, Risks From Ibuprofen Use
Many active people use the painkiller ibuprofen on an almost daily basis. In surveys, up to 70 percent of distance runners and other endurance athletes report that they down the pills before every workout or competition, viewing the drug as a preemptive strike against muscle soreness.
But a valuable new study joins growing evidence that ibuprofen and similar anti-inflammatory painkillers taken before a workout don’t offer any benefit and may be causing disagreeable physical damage instead, particularly to the intestines.
Studies have already shown that strenuous exercise alone commonly results in a small amount of intestinal trauma. A representative experiment published last year found that cyclists who rode hard for an hour immediately developed elevated blood levels of a marker that indicates slight gastrointestinal leakage.
Physiologically, it makes sense that exercise would affect the intestines as it does, since, during prolonged exertion, digestion becomes a luxury, said Dr. Kim van Wijck, currently a surgical resident at Orbis Medical Center in the Netherlands, who led the small study. So the blood that normally would flow to the small intestine is instead diverted to laboring muscles. Starved of blood, some of the cells lining the intestines are traumatized and start to leak.