Acetaminophen and Small Amounts of Alcohol Increase Risk of Liver and Kidney Damage

Research being conducted at Parker University in Dallas, Texas, adds to the body of evidence showing that acetaminophen can cause kidney and liver damage. This new research, reported by the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP) in a release dated Jan. 7, 2014, showed that even a small amount of alcohol with acetaminophen can lead to kidney disease.

The F4CP release reported that research presented at the American Public Health Association’s 141st Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass., concluded that the combination of acetaminophen with light to moderate levels of alcohol consumption produces a 123% increased risk of kidney disease.

The research surveyed 10,000 people. They discovered that nearly half the participants who combined regular alcohol use, which was considered up to 12 drinks a week for men, along with frequent use of medications with acetaminophen reported kidney problems.

“The recent findings support a multitude of reports that continue to surface examining the dangers associated with over-the-counter and prescription pain medications,” says Gerard Clum, D.C., spokesperson, F4CP. “The public needs to be exceptionally cautious utilizing very common acetaminophen or acetaminophen-containing products for pain relief especially when alcohol may be consumed, and should begin to consider less invasive, non-pharmacological, evidence-based options as a first step in their course of addressing pain.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, “Acetaminophen overdose is one of the most common poisonings worldwide.” What many people do not know is that this drug is not only found in Tylenol, but also in a host of other common prescription and over-the-counter medications. So, in many cases, people who take these drugs are getting much more acetaminophen then they realize.

A CNN story published on Jan. 16, 2014, explained how acetaminophen and alcohol can damage the liver. “Acetaminophen is primarily metabolized in the liver, where it is turned into nontoxic compounds that are eliminated through urination. But the liver needs something called glutathione to do that. If your glutathione levels are low — which can be caused by chronic drinking, an unhealthy diet or fasting — the drug may be metabolized into a more toxic substance, according to the National Institutes of Health.”

Dr. Clum recommended an alternative to the acetaminophen dangers by offering, “Mounting scientific evidence continues to expose the dangers associated with acetaminophen-containing products commonly used for pain relief. It is clear that the public needs to understand that simply because a medication is available over-the-counter or by prescription does NOT mean it is without serious risks. Consumers would be wise to opt for safer, non-drug options, such as chiropractic care, that provide very positive clinical results without the risks of routinely used pharmaceuticals.”

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