Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy Associated with Language Delay in Girls


https://speciality.medicaldialogues.in/acetaminophen-use-during-pregnancy-associated-with-language-delay-in-girls/

Acetaminophen may help prevent kidney injury after pediatric bypass


Acetaminophen inhibits the formation of lipid peroxidation molecules that have been linked to acute kidney injury after pediatric cardiopulmonary bypass surgery, according to new data.

Hemolysis during pediatric cardiopulmonary bypass has been associated with lipid peroxidation and acute kidney injury, according to previous research. In an animal model of rhabdomyolysis-induced kidney injury, acetaminophen has been found to reduce both lipid peroxidation levels and the incidence of kidney injury, Hayden J. Zaccagni, MD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said. Zaccagni and colleagues hypothesized that acetaminophen would attenuate lipid peroxidation in children undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass.

“This research is born out of the understanding that bypass often leads tohemolysis, and hemolysis leads to acute kidney injury,” Zaccagni said. “One model of hemolysis-induced kidney injury is … where the buildup of lipid peroxidation molecules, specifically isoprostane and isofuran, lead to vasoconstriction and are potent oxidants as well.”

Hayden J. Zaccagni, MD

Hayden J. Zaccagni

The researchers randomly assigned 30 children who were undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to acetaminophen or placebo every 6 hours for four doses starting before surgery. They measured markers of hemolysis, lipid peroxidation and acute kidney injury during the perioperative period.

The findings were presented at Cardiology 2014: The 17th Annual Update on Pediatric and Congenital Cardiovascular Disease.

Cardiopulmonary bypass was associated with increases in free hemoglobin (pre-bypass, 9.8 mg/dL; post-bypass peak, 201.5 mg/dL) and plasma and urine isofuran and F2-isoprostane concentrations. The increase in isofuran was greater than the increase in isoprostane, the researchers reported.

Compared with the placebo group, the acetaminophen group had a lower increase in plasma isofurans (P=.02). However, there was no statistical difference between the groups in plasma F2-isoprostanes or urinary markers of lipid peroxidation. There were also no statistical differences between the groups in postoperative creatinine, urinary neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin or prevalence of acute kidney injury, though the study was not statistically powered to demonstrate those effects, according to Zaccagni.

“What we were able to show is that acetaminophen can inhibit the formation of lipid peroxidation molecules, specifically isofuran, and thus have a potential role in preventing acute kidney injury after bypass in our patients,” Zaccagni said.

Future studies are needed to determine whether more efficient inhibition of lipid peroxidation could reduce acute kidney injury, according to the researchers.

Acetaminophen may help prevent kidney injury after pediatric bypass


Acetaminophen inhibits the formation of lipid peroxidation molecules that have been linked to acute kidney injury after pediatric cardiopulmonary bypass surgery, according to new data.

Hemolysis during pediatric cardiopulmonary bypass has been associated with lipid peroxidation and acute kidney injury, according to previous research. In an animal model of rhabdomyolysis-induced kidney injury, acetaminophen has been found to reduce both lipid peroxidation levels and the incidence of kidney injury, Hayden J. Zaccagni, MD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said. Zaccagni and colleagues hypothesized that acetaminophen would attenuate lipid peroxidation in children undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass.

“This research is born out of the understanding that bypass often leads tohemolysis, and hemolysis leads to acute kidney injury,” Zaccagni said. “One model of hemolysis-induced kidney injury is … where the buildup of lipid peroxidation molecules, specifically isoprostane and isofuran, lead to vasoconstriction and are potent oxidants as well.”

Hayden J. Zaccagni, MD

Hayden J. Zaccagni

The researchers randomly assigned 30 children who were undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to acetaminophen or placebo every 6 hours for four doses starting before surgery. They measured markers of hemolysis, lipid peroxidation and acute kidney injury during the perioperative period.

The findings were presented at Cardiology 2014: The 17th Annual Update on Pediatric and Congenital Cardiovascular Disease.

Cardiopulmonary bypass was associated with increases in free hemoglobin (pre-bypass, 9.8 mg/dL; post-bypass peak, 201.5 mg/dL) and plasma and urine isofuran and F2-isoprostane concentrations. The increase in isofuran was greater than the increase in isoprostane, the researchers reported.

Compared with the placebo group, the acetaminophen group had a lower increase in plasma isofurans (P=.02). However, there was no statistical difference between the groups in plasma F2-isoprostanes or urinary markers of lipid peroxidation. There were also no statistical differences between the groups in postoperative creatinine, urinary neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin or prevalence of acute kidney injury, though the study was not statistically powered to demonstrate those effects, according to Zaccagni.

“What we were able to show is that acetaminophen can inhibit the formation of lipid peroxidation molecules, specifically isofuran, and thus have a potential role in preventing acute kidney injury after bypass in our patients,” Zaccagni said.

Future studies are needed to determine whether more efficient inhibition of lipid peroxidation could reduce acute kidney injury, according to the researchers.

When you take acetaminophen, you don’t feel others’ pain as much.


The popular painkiller reduces empathy, study finds

Researchers at The Ohio State University found, for example, that when participants who took acetaminophen learned about the misfortunes of others, they thought these individuals experienced less pain and suffering, when compared to those who took no painkiller.

“These findings suggest other people’s pain doesn’t seem as big of a deal to you when you’ve taken acetaminophen,” said Dominik Mischkowski, co-author of the study and a former Ph.D. student at Ohio State, now at the National Institutes of Health.

Dominik Mischkowski

“Acetaminophen can reduce empathy as well as serve as a painkiller.”

Mischkowski conducted the study with Baldwin Way, who is an assistant professor of psychology and member of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research; and Jennifer Crocker, Ohio Eminent Scholar in Social Psychology and professor of psychology at Ohio State. Their results were published online in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

Acetaminophen – the main ingredient in the painkiller Tylenol – is the most common drug ingredient in the United States, found in more than 600 medicines, according to theConsumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade group.

Each week about 23 percent of American adults (about 52 million people) use a medicine containing acetaminophen, the CHPA reports.

In an earlier study, Way and other colleagues found that acetaminophen also blunts positive emotions like joy.

Taken together, the two studies suggest there’s a lot we need to learn about one of the most popular over-the-counter drugs in the United States.

“We don’t know why acetaminophen is having these effects, but it is concerning,” said Way, the senior author of the study.

“Empathy is important. If you are having an argument with your spouse and you just took acetaminophen, this research suggests you might be less understanding of what you did to hurt your spouse’s feelings.”

The researchers conducted two experiments, the first involving 80 college students. At the beginning, half the students drank a liquid containing 1,000 mg of acetaminophen, while the other half drank a placebo solution that contained no drug. The students didn’t know which group they were in.

After waiting one hour for the drug to take effect, the participants read eight short scenarios in which someone suffered some sort of pain. For example, one scenario was about a person who suffered a knife cut that went down to the bone and another was about a person experiencing the death of his father.

Participants rated the pain each person in the scenarios experienced from 1 (no pain at all) to 5 (worst possible pain). They also rated how much the protagonists in the scenarios felt hurt, wounded and pained.

Overall, the participants who took acetaminophen rated the pain of the people in the scenarios to be less severe than did those who took the placebo.

A second experiment involved 114 college students. As in the first experiment, half took acetaminophen and half took the placebo.

In one part of the experiment, the participants received four two-second blasts of white noise that ranged from 75 to 105 decibels. They then rated the noise blasts on a scale of 1 (not unpleasant at all) to 10 (extremely unpleasant).

They were then asked to imagine how much pain the same noise blasts would cause in another anonymous study participant.

Results showed that, when compared to those who took the placebo, participants who took acetaminophen rated the noise blasts as less unpleasant for themselves – and also thought they would be less unpleasant for others.

“Acetaminophen reduced the pain they felt, but it also reduced their empathy for others who were experiencing the same noise blasts,” Mischkowski said.

In another part of the experiment, participants met and socialized with each other briefly. Each participant then watched, alone, an online game that purportedly involved three of the people they just met. (The other participants weren’t actually involved).

In the “game,” two of the people the participants had met excluded the third person from the activity.

Participants were then asked to rate how much pain and hurt feelings the students in the game felt, including the one who was excluded.

Results showed that people who took acetaminophen rated the pain and hurt feelings of the excluded student as being not as severe as did the participants who took the placebo.

“In this case, the participants had the chance to empathize with the suffering of someone who they thought was going through a socially painful experience,” Way said.

“Still, those who took acetaminophen showed a reduction in empathy. They weren’t as concerned about the rejected person’s hurt feelings.”

While these results had not been seen before, they make sense in the light of previous research, Way said.

A 2004 study scanned the brains of people as they were experiencing pain and while they were imagining other people feeling the same pain. Those results showed that the same part of the brain was activated in both cases.

“In light of those results, it is understandable why using Tylenol to reduce your pain may also reduce your ability to feel other people’s pain as well,” he said.

The researchers are continuing to study how acetaminophen may affect people’s emotions and behavior, Way said. They are also beginning to study another common pain reliever – ibuprofen – to see if it has similar results.

Common painkiller may hamper our ability to notice errors.


Acetaminophen, a common painkiller, inhibits pain, but behavioural studies suggest it may also inhibit evaluative responses more generally.

The research from the University of Toronto and University of British Columbia in Canada is the first neurological study to look at how acetaminophen could be
inhibiting the brain response associated with making errors. “Past research tells us physical pain and social rejection share a neural process that we experience as distress, and both have been traced to same part of the brain,” said Dan Randles, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto.

 Close-up of a person's hands holding a bottle of pills

Recent research has begun to show how acetaminophen inhibits pain, while behavioural studies suggest it may also inhibit evaluative responses more generally. Previous research has also found that people are less reactive to uncertain situations when under the effect of acetaminophen.

For the study, two groups of 30 participants were given a target-detection task called the Go or No Go. Participants were asked to hit a Go button every time the

letter F flashed on a screen but refrain from hitting the button if an E flashed on the screen. “The trick is you’re supposed to move very quickly capturing all the GOs, but hold back when you see a No Go,” said Randles. Electroencephalogram (EEG) was used to measure electrical activity in the brain of the participants. The researchers were looking for a particular wave called Error Related Negativity (ERN) and Error Related Positivity (Pe).

Essentially what happens is that when people are hooked up to an EEG and make an error in the task there is a robust increase in ERN and Pe. One group, which was given 1,000 milligrammes of acetaminophen – the equivalent of a normal maximum dose – showed a smaller Pe when making mistakes than those who did not receive a dose, suggesting that acetaminophen inhibits our conscious awareness of the error. “It looks like acetaminophen makes it harder to recognise an error, which may have implications for cognitive control in daily life,” said Randles.

Cognitive control is an important neurological function because people are constantly doing cognitive tasks that flow automatically like reading, walking or talking. These tasks require very little cognitive control because they are well mapped out neurological processes, said Randles. “Sometimes you need to interrupt your normal processes or they’ll lead to a mistake, like when you’re talking to a friend while crossing the street, you should still be ready to react to an erratic driver,” said Randles.

“The task we designed is meant to capture that since most of the stimuli were Go, so you end up getting into a routine of automatically hitting the Go button,” he said. “When you see a No Go, that requires cognitive control because you need to interrupt the process,” he said. The research was published in the journal Social
Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

Could A Common Painkiller Cause Brain Inflammation And Even Autism In Children


Via: wavebreakmedia | Shutterstock

Could A Common Painkiller Cause Brain Inflammation — And Even Autism — In Children?

What if it’s acetaminophen, NOT vaccines? Researchers tie America’s most popular painkiller to brain inflammation and autism.

My husband’s arms are sore. His joints are stiff. Just home from pick-up basketball, he heads to the medicine cabinet to find relief from all his aches and pains. Should he, like billions of others, take America’s most popular painkiller, acetaminophen? What about when our daughter is teething, or just after a vaccine? Should we give her Infants’ Tylenol to relieve the pain?

In an article on Vox last month, health reporter Julia Belluz documents myriad problems with acetaminophen, known in Europe as paracetamol/paracetamolo and in America by its brand name, Tylenol. Belluz points out that acetaminophen is theleading cause of liver failure and that randomized studies show that it does not work as well as other methods for knee pain, back pain, or osteoarthritis. Despite her evidence-based explanation of both its toxicity and ineffectiveness, Belluz reaches the nonsensical conclusion that acetaminophen is somehow safe for babies.

Via: Zdenka Darula | Shutterstock

Yet we know that toxic substances like alcohol and drugs are much more dangerous for children than adults, and that an infant’s developing brain is particularly sensitive to toxicity.

Laboratory studies show acetaminophen causes cell death. Epidemiological studies link this drug to attention disorders and autism. Taken together, a growing body of scientific literature that Vox completely and irresponsibly ignores shows that pregnant women, infants, and small children should stay far, far away from acetaminophen.

The active ingredient in Tylenol, acetaminophen, is found in more than 600 drugs, including many over-the-counter medications targeted at children (Infants’ Tylenol, Children’s Mucinex, and Little Remedies for Fevers), as well as NyQuil and Alka-Seltzer Plus.

Doctors often recommend dosing children with acetaminophen before they get routine vaccines, and then tell parents to give them more if the baby spikes a fever or has a reaction at the injection site.

The Vox article references a Cochrane report from 13 years ago to show acetaminophen is safe for babies. Cochrane, a non-profit institute aimed at promoting better health through evidence-based medical practice, is considered the gold standard when it comes to unbiased science. Based in the United Kingdom, it does not accept money from pharmaceutical companies. If Cochrane says acetaminophen is safe for children, despite its documented toxicity in adults, then it must be okay.

Disaster averted.

My doctor was not crazy when he told me to give the baby acetaminophen.

Right?

Wrong.

The Cochrane report does not actually say that acetaminophen is safe for children. It concludes that, “Trial evidence that paracetamol has a superior antipyretic effect than placebo is inconclusive,” and “Data on adverse events in these trials were limited.” Since it was published in 2002, several studies have suggested a cause and effect relationship between acetaminophen and brain disorders.

A 2008 study led by Stephen Schultz, who earned his Ph.D. in public health epidemiology at the University of California at San Diego, after working as a dentist for 21 years, found that children given acetaminophen after vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella developed autism eight times as often as children given ibuprofen.

Schultz’s was a small study. But his findings dovetail with a more recent studyinvolving more than 48,000 Norwegians that associates the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy with developmental problems — including attention deficits and aggression — in children at age three. This study, too, points toward the negative effects of acetaminophen on the developing human brain.

In another study of over 64,000 pregnant women in Denmark, the use of acetaminophen in pregnancy was linked to higher risks of severe attention deficit disorders in their children. The longer they used the acetaminophen, the higher the risk of behavioral and brain problems.

Yet another recent study links autism with acetaminophen. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts found that uncircumcised males have five times lower rates of autism than circumcised males. The scientists don’t blame circumcision, which they hypothesize is corollary. Instead they question whether pain relief drugs are to blame, concluding that there is a “need for formal study of the role of paracetamol [acetaminophen] in autism.”

An Epidemic Of Brain Disorders Among America’s Children

In America today, according to the CDC, 1 in every 42 American boys and 1 in every 189 American girls has an autism spectrum disorder.

“When I graduated my residency program it was 1 in 10,000,” says David Traver, M.D., a pediatrician in private practice in Foster City, California, who specializes in treating children with special needs, “that was 1988.”

Though some doctors and researchers insist that the rise in autism is due to changes in diagnostic criteria and increased awareness, a systematic analysis of the numbersby Stanford-trained Cynthia Nevison, Ph.D., a research scientist at the University of Colorado, has shown that changes in diagnostic criteria only account for 20-25 percent of the increase in autism. In other words, the epidemic of autism and other brain disorders among America’s children is real.

“Autism is clearly on the rise,” insists Traver. “It’s here. We can argue whether it’s severe, moderate, or mild. But what are we doing about this? There is a generation of children that are suffering as we intellectually weight lift.”

Via:  Karramba Production | Shutterstock

William Shaw, Ph.D., a clinical chemist who previously worked for the CDC, points outthat the steep incline in autism, as well as attention deficit disorders and asthma, coincide with the popular use of acetaminophen in the place of aspirin in the United States. But does a cause and effect relationship between acetaminophen and autism make sense from a biological, cellular, or biochemical point of view?

Kevin Becker, Ph.D., the director of a section at the prestigious National Institutes of Health, has described potential molecular mechanisms by which autism might be induced by acetaminophen. Schultz has also described a potential mechanism.

The most detailed explanation of acetaminophen causing autism comes from biochemist William Shaw. He explains that acetaminophen can temporarily inhibit our body’s ability to process toxins, depleting glutathione levels (think of glutathione as nature’s mop), resulting essentially in a toxic wash of the body, including the brain. Simply put: yes, biochemically acetaminophen could cause autism.

The gender disparity in autism has long puzzled scientists: why are so many more boys than girls affected? This study in rats shows, indeed, that there is gender bias at work: male rats are much more susceptible to the toxic effects of acetaminophen than females.

William Parker, Ph.D., an expert on immunology and an associate professor at Duke University Medical Center, has spent over a decade working on immune diseases but has not been involved with any of these studies. When I reached him by phone at his lab at the Department of Surgery, Parker tells me that autism “looks, feels, and smells just like an inflammatory disease of Western culture.”

“It’s all part and parcel of the same issue,” Parker explains. “Inflammation can be caused by a number of factors in modern society, and it leads to disease under the right conditions. With autism, it seems that oxidative stress, a consequence of inflammation, is a necessary factor. A wide range of modern chemicals — especially acetaminophen — can increase oxidative stress.”

Are Brain Disorders Triggered By Vaccines?

There are several potential culprits blamed for causing inflammatory diseases and brain abnormalities, including exposure to pesticides, prenatal ultrasounds, and the current childhood vaccination schedule, which recommends two vaccines during pregnancy, as well as a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease (hepatitis B) in the first few hours of every American newborn’s life.

Hundreds of thousands of parents, like this mom, blame their child’s brain damage on vaccines, noticing that an otherwise normally developing child began regressing into autism after a round of shots.

But Parker, who has no children himself, is most concerned with acetaminophen. He hypothesizes that if we stop using this popular painkiller (as long as we don’t replace it with anything equally as toxic), we will see a sharp decline in autism.

“Based on available data, it looks like eliminating acetaminophen from the equation will be enough to dramatically reduce autism,” Parker insists.

Via: misfire_asia | Shutterstock

Dr. Traver, the specialist in autism, recommends his patients avoid acetaminophen and believes the drug’s connection to autism should be tested further. “The uninformed and indiscriminate administration of acetaminophen has been shown to yield adverse results in certain populations,” Traver explains via Skype. “This needs to be understood and appreciated. We need to keep this in mind.”

At the same time, Traver cautions against laying too much blame on acetaminophen. “It’s not that you never use it or that you always use it. Maybe it’s needed for children with an allergy to ibuprofen. It’s not satanic and Motrin is [not] angelic. I’m not going to say that.”

Robert Sears, M.D., a pediatrician in private practice in Capistrano Beach, California, a founder of the Immunity Education Group, and author of The Autism Book, agrees. Sears says he used to equally recommend acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain and fever relief but now primarily recommends ibuprofen.

“A few years ago, I became aware of some potential concerns that acetaminophen may reduce glutathione production,” Sears explains. “Glutathione is a natural antioxidant, which helps the body handle toxins. It would therefore not make much sense to give infants a medication which may reduce the ability to handle some of the chemical ingredients in vaccines.”

Maya Shetreat-Klein, M.D., an integrative pediatric neurologist based in New York City, actively discourages parents from giving acetaminophen to children. “Tylenol is most commonly used for fever, which is a healthy immune response to illness that only rarely should be suppressed,” Shetreat-Klein explains via email. “Tylenol also impairs cellular detoxification… Our bodies particularly need this when we are sick or inflamed, so impairing glutathione is the opposite of what you want to do.”

Pregnant Women Should Avoid Acetaminophen Too

Cindy Schneider, M.D., the medical director for the Center for Autism Research and Education based in Phoenix, Arizona, and a former obstetrician and gynecologist, cautions pregnant women against using acetaminophen. “No medication can be considered completely safe during pregnancy. The fact that a drug is available over the counter does not necessarily mean that it carries fewer risks to a pregnant woman or her baby than those that are only available by prescription,” explains Schneider.

“There appears to be an association between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and an increased incidence of maternal blood clots, pulmonary embolism, preterm labor, and preeclampsia. There is considerable risk to the developing fetus as well. Both animal and human studies have documented an increase in genital birth defects in males exposed to acetaminophen during pregnancy, and defects of the heart, abdominal wall, and face have also been reported.”

Schneider says pregnant women should not be misled by obstetricians or doctors who insist the drug is safe for them or their babies. “The fact that thousands of obstetricians routinely recommend acetaminophen for headaches, backaches, fevers, and other ailments in pregnancy does not guarantee that it can be taken without risk,” she insists. “Most are unaware of the developing science on this subject.”

Duke University’s William Parker believes more studies are urgently needed to determine if there really is a direct link between acetaminophen use and autism.

So while we wait for the science, what can we do?

1. Make sure your hospital does not administer acetaminophen to your baby. It is their drug of choice for babies undergoing a wide range of procedures, from circumcision to vaccination.

2. Don’t be so fast to use drugs to treat your child’s every cough. You’ll be surprised at how well a bowl of old-fashioned chicken soup, rest, and some attention from mom or dad can heal mild illnesses.

3. Seek alternatives to acetaminophen. Our family has had good luck treating headaches with a cold washcloth to the forehead, a rest on the couch with a favorite stuffed bear, and a quarter teaspoon of ground turmeric (a common spice used in Indian cooking and a powerful anti-inflammatory recommended by this M.D.) in a big glass of water or fresh juice.

My husband opted for yoga stretching to help his muscles release the built-up lactic acid. He used an ice pack on the sorer muscles and joints. He also took 500 mg ofquercetin, a plant-derived anti-inflammatory, and a half a teaspoon of turmeric in a big glass of filtered water. He felt better right away.

If You Take Tylenol For Joint Pain, You Need To Read This


tylenol
If the pain is bad enough to send you rummaging through your medicine cabinet, you’re probably on the hunt for something that works—and fast. But a new study suggests one of the most common over-the-counter pain meds may not be the cure-all you once thought.

According to new research, published in the BMJ, acetaminophen—known to most of us as Tylenol—isn’t all that effective at relieving pain from osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis.

Because acetaminophen is one of the most popular tools for treating pain, study author Gustavo Machado, a PhD student at the George Institute for Global Health and the University of Sydney medical school in Australia, says he and his co-authors wanted to assess its safety and efficacy. And their findings are not too promising: “Our results revealed that acetaminophen provides only trivial benefits for patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis in terms of pain reduction and improvement of function and quality of life,” Machado says. The researchers also found acetaminophen to be entirely ineffective for low back pain.

hip pain
Machado and his colleagues analyzed results from 13 prior clinical trials on the effectiveness of acetaminophen and found the reductions in pain for people with hip or knee osteoarthritis were so small they wouldn’t be considered “clinically important.” Acetaminophen improved pain in these patients by an average drop of just 4 points or less on a scale of 0 to 100. On the other hand, the researchers write, previous studies show that a regular strength and flexibility exercise routines can make a big difference when it comes to pain, compared to more sedentary folks. One study found exercise resulted in an average drop of 2.3 points on a 0 to 10 pain scale, nearly 5 times the impact of acetaminophen in the current study.

Before you toss your pill bottles, it’s worth discussing the risks and benefits with your doctor, Machado says, as every patient is different. And because this review only examined low back pain and hip or knee osteoarthritis, he can’t say whether people using acetaminophen for other painful conditions are reaping any benefits.

However, should you choose another pain-relief route, you do have effective and safe options to quiet barking hip and knee joints, Machado says. “Land- and water-based exercises, strength training, weight management, and oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (like ibuprofen) have also been shown to be effective for patients with lower limb osteoarthritis.” To help speed back pain recovery, he recommends getting some regular physical activity and avoiding bed rest. (Try these 4 exercises to ease back pain.)

One place to start is with this knee-protecting move: Using a set of light ankle weights, sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your palms on the sides of the chair for balance. Slowly lift one foot until the leg is straight. Hold for a couple of seconds, then lower it back to the floor. After you’ve done 10-12, repeat on the other leg.

Could Taking Acetaminophen Dull Your Happiness?


Acetaminophen, the painkiller best known to Americans as Tylenol, may do more than simply dull pain — it may also dull happy or sad emotions, new research finds.

The new, small study is the first to suggest that acetaminophen ratchets down a patient’s emotional response to positive, upbeat stimulation. But the study builds on prior research into negative emotions, explained study lead author Geoffrey Durso.

“Recent research in psychology has found that acetaminophen blunts the extent to which individuals experience negative events beyond physical pain,” said Durso, a doctoral student in social psychology at Ohio State University in Columbus. “Our study was inspired by asking why this might be the case.”

The new study, published online recently inPsychological Science, involved two experiments, each enlisting about 80 college students.

In the first experiment, half of the participants took a 1000-milligram dose of acetaminophen, while the other half took a dummy pill. An hour later, all were shown 40 photographs designed to provoke emotional responses that ranged from positive (pictures of children playing with cute pets) to negative (photos of sickly, underfed children).

Participants ranked each photo’s emotional content, and then indicated how each image made them feel.

The result: those who took acetaminophen offered more muted responses to both the negativeand the positive images.

A follow-up study was structured exactly the same way, but also asked participants to indicate how much of the color blue they saw in each image. The goal was to see whether acetaminophen only affected emotions, or if it also affected the ability to cast accurate judgments overall.

The results found that acetaminophen had no impact on color assessment — suggesting that only emotions were affected.

Overall, Durso said the study found a “reliable but relatively subtle” association between acetaminophen and a blunting of emotions. Just how the drug might do this remains elusive, however.

“Acetaminophen exerts a multitude of effects on the individual,” Durso said. He believes the medicine could alter brain activity in various ways, such as tweaking activity of the neurochemical serotonin, reducing inflammatory signaling, or decreasing activation in areas responsible for emotion.

“Any one or combination of these effects could be responsible for the psychological outcomes that we observe on individuals’ blunted negative and positive evaluations,” he said.

But Durso stressed that acetaminophen’s effect on emotions may not be unique — other painkillers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, might have similar effects, although that’s not yet been tested.

McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the manufacturer of Tylenol, took issue with the findings. In a statement, the company said that the Ohio study has “a very small sample size, making it difficult to draw definitive conclusions about the impact of acetaminophen on the response to both positive and negative emotional stimuli.”

Alan Hilfer is chief psychologist emeritus at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City. After reviewing the study, he called the findings both “interesting and surprising.”

“I can’t honestly think of another drug out there that has this type of side effect,” he said. “At the same time, I’m struck by the fact that no one has ever reported feeling this type of emotional dulling after taking this medication. And [use of the drug is] very, very common,” Hilfer added.

“I could speculate that because people sometimes do take acetaminophen to relax and sometimes to help them sleep, that perhaps there could be some impact over a short period of time during which there is a relaxing of the intensity of one’s emotions as well,” Hilfer said. “But that’s strictly speculative on my part. And I would certainly want to see these findings replicated before suggesting that anyone alter their recommendations with respect to the use of over-the-counter Tylenol.”