By Stephen Matthews

Adults wanting to bulk up and get in shape should keep away from ibuprofen, new research suggests.

Regularly taking the cheap painkillers can slow down any muscle growth obtained by lifting weights in the gym, according to the Daily Mail.

Swedish researchers found the drugs, which are one of the most widely consumed in the world, interfere with the healing process of muscles - which stops them from getting bigger following a work-out.

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Dr Tommy Lundberg, who is based at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, was behind the 'extremely interesting' findings.

He said: "Our results suggest young people who do weight training to increase their muscle mass should avoid regular high doses of anti-inflammatory drugs.

"The results are extremely interesting since the use of anti-inflammatory drugs is so globally widespread, not least amongst elite athletes."

HOW WAS THE STUDY CARRIED OUT?

For the study, researchers randomly assigned the participants, who were aged between 18 and 35, into two groups.

One set were given a high dose of ibuprofen and the others a lower dose of aspirin every day for eight weeks.

Over the same period, the volunteers also took part in supervised weight-training exercises designed for their thighs.

Researchers then measured certain variables, including muscle growth, strength and anti-inflammatory markers.

WHAT DID THEY FIND?

It was found that after the eight weeks, the increase in muscle volume was twice as large in the low-dose aspirin group.

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

After analysing muscle biopsies, the researchers found that classical markers for inflammation were inhibited in the ibuprofen group.

NOT ONLY IBUPROFEN

Writing in the journal Acta Physiologica, the researchers said it is unlikely that the effects are exclusive to just ibuprofen.

Dr Lundberg added: '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 over-the-counter NSAIDs have similar effects."

The new findings come after a study in June suggested that going to the gym and lifting weights could prevent against dementia.

The Finnish study found greater upper and lower body strength was linked to better cognitive function in ageing adults.

HEART DISEASE RISK FROM IBUPROFEN

Arthritis sufferers are at greater risk of heart disease and stroke if they take ibuprofen to dampen their pain, a study showed this week.

The common painkiller, available in corner shops, supermarkets and petrol stations, had a more profound effect on raising blood pressure than other similar medications.

The findings, made by Swiss researchers, added to a growing body of evidence that suggests the cheap pills may have deadly consequences.

Scientists warned the results of the trial is worrying for the elderly, considering their higher rates of arthritis and hypertension.