If you frequently pop Tylenol for your daily aches and pains, beware.
Healthy adults who took the maximum recommended doses of Tylenol for two weeks--which is the equivalent of eight extra-strength tablets daily--had abnormal liver test results, reports The Associated Press of a new study from the University of Southern California and the University of North Carolina.
Although the study was small--just 106 participants--the researchers are concerned that even normal amounts of the popular painkiller could lead to liver damage.
In this study, the volunteers were divided into three groups: One took just Tylenol, a second took Tylenol and an opioid painkiller and the third took a placebo. Those who took the dummy pill showed no alarming liver test results, but nearly 40 percent of those in the first two groups who took the Tylenol had abnormal test results that would signal liver damage, reports AP.
"I would urge the public not to exceed four grams a day. This is a drug that has a rather narrow safety window," study co-author Dr. Neil Kaplowitz told AP. He also advised heavy drinkers to take no more than two grams a day.
Meanwhile, McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Tylenol, said its own tests, which tracked higher doses over a longer period of time, showed much lower rates of abnormal liver test results. "It doesn't lead to liver disease, and it usually resolves as patients continue to take acetaminophen," Dr. Edwin Kuffner, senior director of medical affairs at McNeil, explained to AP.
Tylenol's active ingredient is acetaminophen, which is a more popular painkiller than either aspirin or ibuprofen. Acetaminophen is included in many over-the-counter and prescription medications so people often don't realize they are taking it.
The study findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.