Leading painkiller nearly doubles mortality risk

Tylenol (acetaminophen) is world’s the leading pain-killer. But doctors and patients alike severely underestimate its dangers. In fact, in a new analysis, British researchers found Tylenol dramatically increases mortality risk.

In this new analysis, British researchers reviewed 1,888 studies on Tylenol. They included eight cohort studies, which are of the strongest statistical design. The analysis found men and women who took Tylenol had an overall increase in risk of death. In fact, in one study, those who took Tylenol had nearly double the risk of death compared to those who didn’t take it.

In a second study, researchers found an all-important dose-response effect for taking this toxic drug. In other words, the higher the dosage of Tylenol taken, the higher the risk. We see this kind of dose-response effect in forensic science and use it to detect the effects of any poison on the body.

The risk of death for men and women who took Tylenol was the same (1.0) at the lowest doses as those who didn’t take the drug. But the risk of death was 1.6 times higher at the highest doses. Overall, the researchers found a 1.3 times higher risk of death among men and women who took Tylenol versus those who didn’t. So, according to this study you raise your risk of dying by 130 to 160 percent by taking Tylenol, depending upon the dose you take.

Tylenol poisons your heart, stomach, kidneys, and liver — just to name a few

Four other studies in the analysis looked at cardiovascular disease events. And they all found a dose-response effect. One study found a 1.2 times higher risk of suffering a cardiovascular event at lower doses of Tylenol. But those who took a higher dose of Tylenol had a 1.7 times higher risk at higher doses.

One study also found a dose-response effect with GI events. They found GI bleeding increased from a 1.1 times higher risk at lower doses to a 1.5 times higher risk at higher doses.

Yet another study found a dose-response effect for kidney damage, with a 1.4 times higher risk at lower doses up to a 2.2 times (220 percent!) higher risk (more than double the risk) at higher doses. This study measured declines in glomerular filtration rate of the kidneys, as basic measure of kidney function and health of kidney cells.

Of course, this OTC painkiller also sends 55,000 to 80,000 men and women to the emergency room each year because of liver damage. Plus, it kills 500 people outright each year because of liver failure. And we’ve known about this product’s safety problems for at least 25 to 30 years.

More recent studies also link Tylenol to the development of autism spectrum disorder when given inappropriately to infants before, during and after vaccination. (Doctors prescribe Tylenol to prevent fevers at the time of vaccination. But no doctor should administer a vaccine to a child with a fever.)

America’s No. 1 painkiller actually prolongs pain

Doctors and patients alike also overestimate Tylenol’s benefits.

For example, recent clinical trials on back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain show it doesn’t even work for those ailments. Worse yet, patients who took it actually suffered for a day longer, on average, than people who didn’t take Tylenol.

Of course, statisticians said the extra day of suffering in these studies was not “statistically significant.” Try making that comment to a patient who has to spend an extra day in pain.

Tylenol probably prolonged the pain in these patients because it’s a metabolic poison, which interferes with the body’s own healing.

My colleague Norton Hadler, M.D., Emeritus Professor of Medicine at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, advised doctors to start by asking themselves whether a patient needs medication in the first place. It makes sense for clinicians and patients to try non-drug approaches first to relieve pain.

Scientific studies show non-drug pain therapies such acupuncture, bodywork, mind-body therapies, spinal manual therapies, and a whole range of potent herbal remedies can effectively relieve pain. (You can match the best non-drug pain treatment to your “emotional type” by taking this short quiz.)

Perhaps most shocking of all, the new Tylenol analysis ran under the headline: “Acetaminophen risks may have been underestimated.”

May have been underestimated?

We’ve known about the risk for almost three decades!

As Aldus Huxley once said, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

My advice remains the same: Don’t take Tylenol. For anything. Ever. There are much safer, more effective ways to manage pain. In fact, I’ve outlined them in detail in my special report The Insider’s Ultimate Guide to Pill-Free Pain Cures. I encourage you to read this report and learn about all of your options before resorting to a potentially deadly pharmaceutical painkiller.


  1. “Acetaminophen risks may have been underestimated,” Medscape (www.medscape.com) 3/2/2015
  1. “Paracetamol: not as safe as we thought? A systematic literature review of observational studies,” British Medical Journal (www.ard.bmj.com) 3/2/2015