One of my goals is to help you stay healthy, so you have the energy and enthusiasm to get the red-hot love life you deserve. This article is a wake up call for millions of us who use over the counter pain relievers because we assume they’re safe or they couldn’t be sold for popular use. That assumption is dangerous. Find out how popular pain killers not only harm your liver, but there also is convincing evidence they cause brain damage and loss of memory even when taken in prescribed doses on the label. Don’t pop another pain killer until you understand the health risks, revealed in this guest post by a wellness expert whose newsletter I read every day.
By Lee Euler, editor of the health and wellness newsletter you can find at http://www.cancerdefeated.com
Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol and many other brands of pain reliever and cold remedy. Many people think acetaminophen is safe because it doesn’t cause intestinal bleeding and ulcers, the deadly dangers posed by NSAIDs like ibuprofen and aspirin.
But acetaminophen is NOT safe. In fact, I rate it the most dangerous of the common OTC pain relievers. What makes it most dangerous is that people don’t know what it can do to them. Meanwhile, the dangers of NSAIDs are pretty well-known — plus the signs are pretty obvious. In most cases (not always!) you feel pain in the gut.
Acetaminophen, on the other hand, is a silent killer, and it does the job more thoroughly than NSAIDs.
The latest evidence suggests acetaminophen may cause Alzheimer’s disease. That’s scary for me, because I suffered from crippling headaches for many years and took way more than my share of this drug.
It doesn’t appear there’s any harm in using acetaminophen now and then — as far as we know. But frequent use may increase your risk of Alzheimer’s.
Brain plaques found in heavy users
The first evidence appeared in Lancet, a renowned medical journal, in 1971. Doctors performed autopsies on a few people who had died of kidney disease related to heavy use of pain-killers. Brain plaques were found in six of them who had used a drug called phenacitin — an earlier, more toxic form of acetaminophen. As you may know, brain plaques are a sign of Alzheimer’s. Meanwhile, two patients who had used aspirin instead of phenacitin did not have brain plaques.
There’s more. The researchers also found “surprisingly high incidence” of brain plaques in nine other “abusers of analgesics.” The scientists concluded that phenacetin “may overwhelm the antioxidant protection of the body. . .” (http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0140673671925761)
What’s the relationship between phenacetin and acetaminophen? Phenacetin was widely used as a pain-killer until the 1970s. The body converts this drug into acetaminophen. Drug companies started marketing acetaminophen when it became clear that the precursor drug, phenacetin, was extremely toxic to the kidneys.
Acetaminophen didn’t have this problem and in fact became a very popular over-the-counter drug because it doesn’t cause stomach pain, bleeding and ulcers as do aspirin and ibuprofen.
The 1971 study linking acetaminophen to brain plaques is very tiny. It’s certainly not the last word on whether acetaminophen causes Alzheimer’s. But there’s more. . .
Took the drug, lost his memory
Robert Jones, Ph.D., is a cancer researcher who parted ways with the establishment when he began to advocate an alternative cancer treatment using an antihistamine called Phenergan. Phenergan is a story for another day. Right now I want to talk about something else he found.
He happened to take acetaminophen for about ten days to relieve pain while painting his house.
Two weeks later he began to experience memory problems. Gradually they went away. Then, ten years later, he had the same experience again. That led him to publish his theory that the drug may impair memory.
This is very slender evidence indeed. But hold on, there’s more. . .
Got rid of “dementia” in one week
by quitting acetaminophen
Dr. Amarish Dave’ is a board certified neurologist and author of an audio book called Total Memory Care. He saw a 57-year-old patient who complained of memory loss, confusion and difficulty concentrating. The symptoms had troubled the patient for more than year.
Dr. Dave’ figured the patient was in the early stages of dementia. But after a close look at the patient’s medication list, he found the patient often used Tylenol PM as a sleep aid. The doctor told the patient to stop taking the drug, and in one week all the symptoms of dementia disappeared.
Acetaminophen is anticholinergic, meaning it blocks a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine that is essential for healthy brain and memory. That’s why many medications used for dementia actually aim to increase the brain’s levels of acetylcholine. Reducing the levels is a very bad idea, and according to the reports I’ve seen, that’s what acetaminophen does.
Dr. Dave’ is the director of a memory clinic and sees a great many patients who complain of faulty or failing memory. He says that their medications are often the reason. My mother suffered from dementia before she passed away, and I can tell you this: ALL patients who allegedly have “Alzheimer’s” should be taken off ALL their medications for a week. Quite often their symptoms will disappear and they’ll become themselves again.
The evidence is slender, but. . .
You should avoid acetaminophen anyway
I can’t tell you for sure than acetaminophen causes memory loss, but you should avoid it anyway, except for the rare, occasional headache or other passing pain.
Acetaminophen is the leading cause of liver failure in the United States. You absolutely can’t take more than the bottle directs, or you could end up in an emergency room. It causes 56,000 emergency room visits a year, according to the latest figures I have.
It’s also extremely toxic to the liver when combined with alcohol. I once sat across from my mother in a restaurant as she popped a couple of acetaminophen pills while finishing a glass of wine. It’s a wonder she lived to be 85. And she was a nurse!
That goes to show most people don’t know the deadly dangers of this drug when taken in large doses or taken with wine, beer or spirits. The damage is silent. You probably won’t know your liver is damaged until you’re nearly dead.
Here’s another thing most people don’t know: acetaminophen is in many cold remedies as just one ingredient among several other drugs. People take a separate dose of acetaminophen for pain relief, not knowing it’s already in their cold medicine. They’re on their way to an overdose.
Comments by Hadley Finch:
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