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Aspirin Could Potentially Treat Anger

Update Date: Dec 19, 2013 02:10 PM EST

People with anger issues often have to turn to behavioral therapy, which teaches them how to control their anger instead of lashing out. For some people, this type of therapy might not be effective, which leaves them with a very limited amount of treatment options. In a new study, scientists from the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado believe that they might have found another treatment option. Based on their research, the scientists are reporting that aspirin could potentially treat anger issues.

In this study, the researchers recruited 197 people. Roughly one-third of the sample set had intermittent explosive disorder, which is characterized by recurrent bursts of rage and sometimes, violence. Another one-third of the participants had a non-aggressive psychiatric disorder while the remaining one-third did not have any mental health issues. The research team took blood samples and tested the blood plasma for two biomarkers of inflammation. The biomarkers they looked for were C-reactive protein and interleukin-6.

"These two markers consistently correlate with aggression and impulsivity but not with other psychiatric problems," wrote Dr. Emil Coccaro, of the University of Chicago's clinical neuroscience research department, according to the New York Daily News. "We don't yet know if the inflammation triggers aggression or aggressive feelings set off inflammation, but it's a powerful indication that the two are connected, and a damaging combination."

The researchers found that people with intermittent explosive disorder tended to have higher levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin-6. C-reactive protein is produced by the liver when the body is infected or injured. Interleukin-6 is secreted by white blood cells in order to stimulate immune responses. Both biomarkers' levels rise when the body's inflammatory response is triggered. Since these reactions are tied to inflammation, treating inflammation could ideally treat anger issues. The researchers stated that there needs to be more research on this relationship. If the link is strong, using medications, such as aspirin, to treat anger disorders could be a possibility.

The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

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