December 9, 2022

Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, destroys your fertility: Peer-reviewed study

Tylenol destroys male sperm. This is just one of the alarming revelations of a new article published in the peer-reviewed journal Environment International.

The study, “Combined exposures to bisphenols, polychlorinated dioxins, paracetamol and phthalates as factors in sperm quality deterioration”, was conducted by an international team of scientists from the UK and Denmark. [1]

These researchers studied urine samples taken in 2009 from 98 male volunteers who were between 18 and 30 years old at the time. They tested urine for eight chemicals used in plastic production that are known to harm human fertility, including BPA, BPF and BPS, as well as phthalates. These endocrine disrupting chemicals can be found almost everywhere in the world today, including clothing, baby diapers, food containers and bedding.

The researchers also analyzed urine samples for acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol, the active ingredient in more than 600 over-the-counter medications, including Tylenol and Panadol.

In addition, based on reports published in the scientific literature, they estimated the risks from a range of other plastic-related chemicals and a variety of common pesticides, including fungicides, herbicides and insecticides.

From there, they developed a hazard index or risk measure. This hazard index estimated the combined theoretical effect of combining several different toxins.

The results were not encouraging, although they may help explain the increasing levels of male infertility experienced by humans in many places around the world. [2]

17 times the levels considered acceptable

A portion of the urine analyzed showed that the combined exposure to the nine chemicals was more than 100 times higher than levels considered acceptable.

But the average chemical exposure was 17 times the acceptable levels.

“Tolerable exposures to substances associated with deterioration of sperm quality are greatly exceeded,” the scientists concluded. “Dedicated efforts to reduce exposures to these substances are needed to mitigate risk.”

Defective sperm

As the researchers point out, male sperm quality and total sperm count have declined sharply, especially in Western countries.

There have also been what they describe as “alarming declines among healthy sperm donors in China.”

Although it is more difficult to assess sperm quantity and quality in non-Western countries, the researchers say, anecdotal and clinical evidence suggests that men in developing countries may also have difficulty.

At the same time, there has been an increase in testicular cancer and reproductive abnormalities in recent decades.

“Poor sperm quality is part of a larger trend of deteriorating male reproductive health that has begun to escalate into a general fertility crisis,” the researchers explained.

All nine chemicals they tested, along with many others, are known to interfere with male fertility. In particular, these chemicals disrupt the development of male sex organs and interfere with male hormones.

One example that was referenced in the new study: When a team of scientists from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia exposed male rats to BPF, a chemical commonly found in plastic manufacturing, they discovered that the chemical induced changes in the rats’ reproductive hormones and affected the shape and size of their testicles. This research, published in 2019 in the journal Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine, describes this phenomenon as “BPF-induced testicular toxicity.” [3]

According to scientists, paracetamol or acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Panadol and Tylenol, disrupts prostaglandin signaling and InsL3 production (necessary for testicular descent during gestation). They cited research that shows acetaminophen has been associated with decreased sperm production and quality in laboratory animals.

Although not mentioned in the current study, a 2017 review by a team of scientists from Harvard and Duke universities identified a growing body of scientific evidence implicating acetaminophen in brain abnormalities, lung and liver damage, among other health issues.

A more recent systemic review, published in the European Journal of Pediatrics in May 2022, concludes that when accessing the safety of paracetamol, there is “increasing evidence in humans and laboratory animals indicating that the drug is not safe for neurodevelopment.”

Additionally, excessive acetaminophen intake is the most common cause of acute liver failure in the United States, according to a 2009 study published in the journal Medical Clinics of North America. [4]

Cumulative chemical stress

Another recent science has shown that COVID-19 vaccines reduce sperm count and motility in men.

While being overexposed to a chemical or drug known to affect fertility is problematic on its own, experts say the combination of toxic exposures can have an even more pronounced negative effect on human health.

“The problem is that there are some things that we know are bad – pesticides and chemicals leaching out of plastics – and these combine with some things that most people think are harmless, like acetaminophen and antibiotics, and cause additive chemical stress and damage to the human body,” said William Parker, Ph.D., biochemist and CEO of WP Labs, a nonprofit that examines the causes of disease immunity in Western society, who did not participate in the study.

“All of this combines and adds up to create more chemical stress on our bodies,” Parker said.

Parker has co-authored several peer-reviewed articles on health issues associated with acetaminophen, which he said “is extremely bad for neurodevelopment.” His main concern lies in administering this pain reliever to infants, babies and toddlers.

In his most recent scientific paper, he and a team of scientists present 17 lines of evidence on how acetaminophen causes autism. [5]

“When you combine all that chemical stress and medicine in babies and children, you can end up with permanent and often severe neurodevelopmental issues,” Parker said.

“There are many types of chemical interactions, sometimes they reinforce each other, sometimes they cancel each other out,” said Dr. James Lyons-Weiler, Ph.D., who is the Institute’s president and CEO. of Pure based in Pennsylvania. and Applied Knowledge, a nonprofit organization that conducts scientific research in the public interest, which did not participate in the study.

“There are not enough studies on synergistic and anergic interactions,” Lyons-Weiler continued. “With synergy, you can expect more than an additive effect, with the chemicals increasing each other’s toxicities. There are other chemicals that can cancel each other out, that’s anergy. But we have no idea what’s going on in the toxic soup.

Lyons-Weiler, who teaches environmental toxicology courses at, said reduced sperm quality, regardless of complicated biochemical reasons, is cause for concern. According to Lyons-Weiler, a study like this is a positive step in the right direction, so that we can better understand the impact of man-made chemicals on human health.

“We need studies that can actually test the interactions. It is the most important science that can be done in toxicology today.


[1] Andreas Kortenkamp, ​​​​Martin Scholze, Sibylle Ermler, Lærke Priskorn, Niels Jørgensen, Anna-Maria Andersson, Hanne Frederiksen, “Combined exposures to bisphenols, polychlorinated dioxins, paracetamol and phthalates as factors in sperm quality deterioration” , Environment International, 2022, 107322 , ISSN 0160-4120,

[2] “‘Remarkable’ decline in fertility rates”, BBC News. November 9, 2018. Accessed on 06/14/2022.

[3] Ullah, A., Pirzada, M., Afsar, T. et al. Effect of bisphenol F, an analogue of bisphenol A, on the reproductive functions of male rats. Environ Health Prev Med 24, 41 (2019).

[4] Fontana RJ. Acute liver failure, including acetaminophen overdose. Med Clin North Am. 2008;92(4):761-viii. doi:10.1016/j.mcna.2008.03.005.

[5] Patel E, Jones JP 3rd, Bono-Lunn D, Kuchibhatla M, Palkar A, Cendejas Hernandez J, et al. The safety of pediatric paracetamol (acetaminophen) use: a narrative review of direct and indirect evidence. Minerva Pediatr July 13, 2022. DOI: 10.23736/S2724-5276.22.06932-4.

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