In the past few months, weve brought you stories about the heart attack and stroke risks found with NSAID drugs, as well as the potentially dangerous side effects of other OTC drugs that you may not know about. The evidence continues to build today as research conducted at the University of Washington has been published in the Journal of Oncology that has found some scary possibilities associated with what is arguably the most popular drug in the world. Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in numerous OTC pain relievers like Tylenol and Excedrin was a common link in what Dr. Roland Walter and his colleagues say is a twofold increased risk for 3 different types of blood cancer.
Dr. Walters group analyzed information collected and published in the 2004 Journal of Epidemiologys Vitamins and Lifestyle study (VITAL). It contained results from almost 65,000 participants who were between the ages of 50 and 76. Of those participants, the ones who said they took acetaminophen drugs 4 days a week over a 4 year period were twice as likely to have developed blood cancers as those who took it less frequently or not at all. Plasma cell disorders, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and myeloid neoplasms were the noted types that developed. Dr. Walter was quoted as saying Acetaminophen use on the majority of the days over many years appears to be associated with this new adverse effect.
Acetaminophen is the leading cause of ER visits related to drug overdoses among children, and the FDA has warned that it can be toxic and can lead to liver failure. Some other studies have also linked repeat exposure to kidney damage and even death. More studies with similar findings will be needed of course to validate these results, but with the existing evidence from previous research its not all that farfetched.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Journal of Clinical Oncology
FDA Acetaminophen Information