Study: Using Tylenol regularly can cause asthma and COPD

A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine pointed to acetaminophen as a significant risk factor for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), among other lung conditions.

Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol, is a drug used to treat fever and provide relief from moderate pain. It’s an active ingredient in many common over-the-counter drugs, including cough suppressants and cold medications. Its most popular brand name is Tylenol.

The researchers, who came from the University of Nottingham in England, followed 13,500 adults from the U.S. All subjects were required to provide information on their use of acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin from 1988 to 1994.

The incidence of asthma and COPD among the subjects was then analyzed relative to their use of the aforementioned drugs. The researchers found that those who used acetaminophen had the highest risk of contracting lung conditions.

Daily users were 72 percent more likely to develop COPD and were 75 percent more prone to having asthma. Using the drug less frequently reduced the risk, but not by much; those who used acetaminophen six to 29 times in a month were also 40 percent more likely to develop asthma. The researchers did not find any apparent association between lung issues and the use of aspirin and ibuprofen.

The authors believe that excessive use of acetaminophen reduces the levels of glutathione, an antioxidant vital to the respiratory system, leading to the buildup of oxidative stress that damages lung tissue. This increases the risk of lung conditions, specifically asthma and COPD.

Excessive use of the drug has also been linked to liver damage. An assessment by the Acute Liver Failure Study Group involving 22 medical centers in the U.S. revealed that hepatotoxicity from acetaminophen had a greater likelihood of causing liver damage than other risk factors.

Apart from these, the list of acetaminophen side effects includes nausea, bloody urine or stool, fever, fatigue, and mouth sores, among others.

Natural alternatives to acetaminophen

Acetaminophen owes much of its popularity as a pain reliever and fever treatment to its ubiquity and low price. However, there are natural, effective alternatives that are cheaper but do not cause any adverse complications.

  • Capsaicin – This substance is derived from chili and is available in gel or cream form. It treats nerve, joint, and muscle discomfort by blocking pain transmissions to the brain.
  • Essential oils – Lavender, chamomile, and sage oils can be used for pain relief in several ways. They can be rubbed directly on the painful area (such as the joints) or used in aromatherapy. In either case, their unique properties calm the mind and relax the muscles.
  • Exercise – Combining exercise and stretching makes for an effective regimen against mild and even chronic body aches and pains.
  • Ginger – This vegetable has been compared to ibuprofen and paracetamol in terms of anti-inflammatory effects. When used for arthritis, it does more than just block inflammatory compounds; its antioxidant content also neutralizes both the inflammation and the acidity of fluids in the joints.
  • Turmeric – This spice isn’t just good for curry, its anti-inflammatory properties also make it great for alleviating pain. Its active ingredient, curcumin, also improves blood flow and has anti-cancer properties.
  • Valerian root – This is known as a natural tranquilizer and is often used by people who have difficulty sleeping. It has numbing properties that ease stress and tension, and make it effective as a pain reliever.
  • White willow bark – The salicin content of white willow bark turns into salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin, inside the stomach. Unlike its synthetic version, natural salicylic acid does not irritate the stomach and instead, is effective against pain, fever, and inflammation.

Learn more about acetaminophen and other toxic drugs at

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