Since its release on the market, paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen, has been the subject of numerous studies, to improve its efficacy, prevent or minimize its side effects and discover new benefits for it. Here is a brief recap of research results that tell you some things you should know if you take paracetamol.
It does not ease low-back pain – paracetamol taken to ease low back pain is no better than a placebo. A study conducted by the University of Sydney, Australia, showed that 17 days of 4 grams of paracetamol per day has the exact same effect as a sugar pill. The only way you experience improvement in such a case is due to the body’s ability to tolerate the level of pain better.
When taken while pregnant, it increases risks of hyperactivity for the unborn child – The mayo Clinic says it is safe to take paracetamol while pregnant. Recent studies have linked paracetamol intake with behavioral issues in children who have been exposed to it while yet unborn. According to this study, these children are at higher risk of receiving a diagnosis of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or HKD (hyperkinetic disorders).
Combined with caffeine, it damages the liver – caffeine often enhances the effect of a painkiller, such as paracetamol. However, researchers warn that if combines, the two substances intake needs to be closely monitored.
If used regularly, it reduces ovarian cancer risk – a very large study, conducted on 746,000 women, showed that 30 tablets per month reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by 30%. However, scientists believe this should not encourage women to begin dosing on paracetamol for this reason alone, because, as seen, the pill does have unwanted side effects, too.
It shouldn’t be given to infants after vaccination – A European study from 2009 concluded that even though babies with a high fever who received paracetamol treatment after vaccination did experience a decrease in “febrile reactions”, they should not receive it as treatment in a moment like this, “since antibody responses to several vaccine antigens were reduced”. In other words, it reduces the vaccine response.
In high doses, it increases risks of blood cancer – such a risk exists, according to studies published in 2011 in Journal of Clinical Oncology, but the conditions to be at that risk would be to take paracetamol at least four times per week, every week, for four years or more. In this case, the risk of developing types of cancer such as lymphoma and myelodysplastic syndrome doubles.