One big reason I continue to write about Tylenol (acetaminophen) is because far too many people still don’t seem to know–or accept the facts–about its dangers. They still seem to assume it’s “safe, gentle, and effective.”
But I’ve been researching and tracking its disturbing–and sometimes deadly–side effects for at least 30 years. And this drug is far from safe and gentle. And, to make matters worse, it’s not even effective against the most common disabling pain in working Americans.
In fact, in a new study on back pain, Tylenol actually delayed healing compared to placebo. For the full details on this shocking study, be on the lookout for the upcoming October issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. (And if you’re not already a subscriber, now is the perfect time to become one.)
And if that news isn’t bad enough for you, a former CDC insider published a disturbing report late last year linking Tylenol with the development of autism spectrum disorder. In his report, William Shaw, Ph.D., makes the case that vaccinations don’t cause autism. Instead, he believes this “safe,” OTC painkiller routinely given for fever after (or even before) vaccinations may trigger the disorder in susceptible children.
A third recent Tylenol study–published in JAMA Pediatrics–found that women who took Tylenol during pregnancy had children with a greater risk of developing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and similar disorders. In fact, they had up to a 40 percent greater risk!
Plus, there was also a “dose-response” effect. In other words, the more acetaminophen the mother took, the higher the risk to the children. In forensic toxicology (the study of poisonings), finding a dose-response effect can be like finding a fingerprint of the culprit for a crime.
A fourth recent study–published in late 2013–showed taking Tylenol during pregnancy increased the risk of serious behavioral problems in children by age three. And their risk skyrocketed by up to a whopping 70 percent!
Unfortunately, acetaminophen crosses the placental barrier and, thus, is able to poison the growing fetus. Researchers believe it interferes with maternal hormones and/or causes neurotoxicity to the sensitive growing fetal brain. As a metabolic poison, it certainly could do both kinds of damage–and more.
Have you heard enough yet?
Apparently, it’s not enough for some mainstream pediatric doctors to change their ways. Astoundingly, despite all the warnings not to take drugs during pregnancy, many doctors still recommend Tylenol to pregnant women.
In fact, the editorial that accompanied this new research paper did not recommend any change in medical practice. (This mindset reminds me of the BMJ editorial during the depths of last winter that accompanied two different papers clearly showing the health problems associated with low vitamin D levels. Yet in the editorial, an “expert” concluded that doctors should not “bother” to measure vitamin D in their patients!)
These doctors demand still more research on this toxic drug. Would it not be safer–and wiser–simply to stop giving Tylenol to pregnant mothers? At least until more research could indicate, if possible, that it was actually safe?
Apparently not in our culture of prescribe-and-pop, pill-shilling pediatric practice.
Maybe these baby doctors don’t know about all the other safety problems uncovered by studies from other medical specialty fields? Maybe they don’t know the FDA has finally acted to ban combination “pain relievers” hiding high doses of Tylenol (after asking manufacturers to comply voluntarily…with only 50 percent success).
But I don’t think ignorance is a valid excuse. Shouldn’t we just be more careful? Especially with pregnant women and their growing babies?
Dr. Andrew Adesman, Chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at New York Children’s Medical Center told the Alliance for Natural Health, “I don’t think we know that anything is safer than acetaminophen.” But we might make a good guess that Tylenol helps keep the Behavioral Pediatrics Departments busy around the country.
To use the term “safe” in association with this drug is a travesty. Every year 78,000 people show up in emergency rooms due to acetaminophen. Of these, 33,000 require hospitalization. And about 450 die. According to 10-year-old data from the FDA–which is always behind in its work–Tylenol was the leading cause of acute liver failure in the U.S. between 1998 and 2003. And there is no reason to think that situation has changed since.
The whole idea of a “safe dose” of Tylenol is an illusion, because just a small, “extra” amount can cause a dangerous overdose. In fact, according to the Drug Information Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (my alma mater), just twice the so-called “safe” dose of Tylenol taken over a few days can result in severe liver damage. In other words, the difference between a “safe” dose and a dangerous overdose is just two “extra strength” tablets!
Do you always keep track of exactly how many pills you take over the course of a few days? Do you want to worry that just one or two pills too many of a “safe” OTC drug might send you into fatal liver?
When it comes to Tylenol, you’d better worry…otherwise, you’re risking liver failure (or worse).
I trust the faculty at University of Pennsylvania more than I trust the pediatric pill pushers. In 2006, as a member of the Penn medical alumni executive committee, I accompanied Dr. Arthur Rubinstein, the courageous Dean, and members of our medical faculty to Washington, D.C. to protest big pharma’s proposal to dictate a new medical curriculum to the American Association of Medical Colleges. You see, big pharma offered to pay hefty subsidies to medical schools to teach what they wanted the students to learn. Our Dean at Penn told them we wanted no part of it. But how many medical schools took the poisoned bait?
I will never give you the party line big pharma wants you to swallow. And I rarely give out simple, one-liners in the complex work of health and medicine. But here’s one I stand behind fully:
Don’t ever take Tylenol–period.
You can learn all about the natural alternatives to acetaminophen in my report called The Insider’s Ultimate Guide to Pill-Free Pain Cures.
- “Efficacy of paracetamol for acute low-back pain: a double-blind, randomised controlled trial,” The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 24 July 2014
- “Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy, Behavioral Problems, and Hyperkinetic Disorders,” JAMA Pediatr, published online ahead of print 2/24/2014
- “Evidence that Increased Acetaminophen use in Genetically Vulnerable Children Appears to be a Major Cause of the Epidemics of Autism, Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity, and Asthma,” Journal of Restorative Medicine, 2013.
- “Accidental staggered paracetamol overdose: An interesting case report,” J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2011 Jul-Sep; 2(3): 189–190