The widely-used over-the-counter painkiller ibuprofen may pose a threat to male fertility, suggests a small new study.
Researchers found that young men who took ibuprofen in doses commonly used by athletes developed a hormonal condition linked to reduced fertility.
The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study included 31 men, ages 18-35. Fourteen of them took a daily dosage of ibuprofen that many professional and amateur athletes take: 600 milligrams twice a day. This 1200-mg-per-day dose is the maximum limit listed on the labels of generic ibuprofen products.
The other 17 men in the study took a placebo.
Within 14 days, the men taking the ibuprofen developed the hormonal condition linked with lower fertility. If it does occur in men, this condition typically begins in middle age.
While "it is sure" that the hormonal effects in the study participants who used ibuprofen for only a short time are reversible, it's unknown whether this is true after long-term ibuprofen use, study co-author Bernard Jegou, director of the Institute of Research in Environmental and Occupational Health in France, told CNN.
Even though this was a small study and further research is needed, the findings are important because ibuprofen is one of the most widely-used medications, Erma Drobnis, an associate professional practice professor of reproductive medicine and fertility at the University of Missouri, Columbia, told CNN.
She was not involved in the study.
Jegou agreed that more study is needed to answer a number of questions, including how low doses of ibuprofen affect male hormones and whether long-term effects are reversible, CNN reported.
Advil and Motrin are two brand names for ibuprofen.
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association is a trade group that represents manufacturers of over-the-counter medications and supplements. The association "supports and encourages continued research and promotes ongoing consumer education to help ensure safe use of OTC medicines," spokesman Mike Tringale told CNN.
"The safety and efficacy of active ingredients in these products has been well documented and supported by decades of scientific study and real-world use," he added.
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