Rethink your pain relief habit.
Credit: Alamy

A post-workout Advil or Aleve can help relieve aching muscles, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. But in a recent analysis published in the Lancet, scientists pored over 750 previous studies and determined that there are risks to taking repeated high doses. Naproxen (in Aleve) can increase gastrointestinal problems, as can ibuprofen (Advil) and ingredients in Celebrex and sodium salts (diclofenac), which were also shown to raise heart-attack and stroke risks. These risks were associated with "prescription" doses – about 1,000 mg of naproxen, or 2,400 mg of ibuprofen, for example – but the authors note that there may be risks for other levels of use and, with more research, these can be more exactly predicted. "All drugs carry risk, so use these cautiously," says Dr. Marie Griffin, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University. Lower doses are not risk-free, she adds, pointing to past studies that have shown that even low doses of Celebrex and diclofenac can raise heart-attack risk, and 500 mg of naproxen, or two over-the-counter pills, can mess with the digestive tract