Ok. I’ll admit it—I’m no fan of anti-inflammatories. The list of side effects is far longer than most doctors realize.
Despite how long the list already is, there is always room for more negative effects when it comes to drugs that interfere with the way your body functions. (In case you’re not familiar with the long list already, feel free to check out my eBook on the dangers of NSAIDs)
This particular article adds bone density problems to the potential list of side effects of ibuprofen and its ilk. The author is looking at the physiological pathways by which NSAIDs could contribute to bone density problems and not summarizing an actual study linking anti-inflammatory drugs with low bone density. Because of this, we can’t say with certainty that ibuprofen side effects will include low bone density, but it certainly makes sense.
Here’s how it works:
Inflammation is needed for both new bone formation and old bone breakdown. Bone is essentially really tough soft tissue, and in a previous blog article I look at evidence linking NSAIDs and poor soft tissue healing after surgery. So it would make sense that NSAIDs would also effect bone healing.
The problem is that we are always breaking down bone and repairing it. Exercise causes microfractures in bone that the body then has to go in and repair. This is one way that exercise improves bone density.
In addition, chronic use of NSAIDs will, ironically, lead to inflammation in the gut. Inflammation in the gut will lead to more serotonin, which, in turn, has been linked to lower numbers of osteoblasts (the cells that build bone).
Pretty crazy web, huh?
Overall, you need to really understand that the use, acute OR chronic, of anti-inflammatoy medications comes with a price, and this price is likely to be far greater than what you took it for in the first place.