03/04/2011 01:49 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Ibuprofen Parkinson's Risk Link? Painkiller Could Stave Off Degenerative Brain Disease

The best protection against Parkinson's disease may already be in your medicine cabinet.

A new study, published in the March 2 online edition of the journal Neurology, showed that people who took ibuprofen two or more times per week were 38 percent less likely to develop the debilitating disease, according to CBS News. The comprehensive study used questionnaires to determine the ibuprofen use habits of 98,892 female nurses and 37,305 male health professionals.

Six years later, 291 participants developed Parkinson's, and the risk was noticeably lower in ibuprofen users.

From the press release on the study, released by the American Academy of Neurology:

Scientists found that people who took ibuprofen regularly had a 38 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease compared to those who did not take ibuprofen. After a larger analysis that combined several other studies on ibuprofen and other NSAID use, the researchers found that ibuprofen users had a 27 percent lower risk of developing the disease compared to non-users.

However, this is no excuse to start unnecessarily taking ibuprofen. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are still risks associated with long term use of the drug.

Though scientists don't know exactly why the painkiller may contribute to preventing Parkinson's, there are theories. "One possibility as to why ibuprofen may have this effect against Parkinson's disease is that it may target a certain receptor in the brain called the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor y (PPARy). Studies in animals have also suggested this effect," said Dr. Xiang Gao of Harvard Medical School, the study's author.