May 20, 2022

Pain reliever used by 25% of Americans alters user perception of risk, study finds


Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol, is a drug commonly used to treat pain and fever, but a new finding suggests it could have implications for society.

The researchers found that acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Tylenol, which is taken by nearly 25 percent of the American population, alters the perception of risk by making certain activities seem less dangerous.

Participants in a new study ingested two tablets (1000 mg) of the drug or a placebo and were asked to rate certain activities for risk.

People under the influence of acetaminophen rated activities like bungee jumping, skydiving, or starting a new career in their mid-30s as less risky than those who took the placebo.

Researchers involved in the experiment note that acetaminophen was pushed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a way to treat the initial symptoms of the coronavirus, and suggest that people with a mild case don’t have may not have seen leaving their home as a risk – thus spreading the virus to others.

Researchers have found that acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Tylenol and some 600 other drugs, alters the perception of risk by making certain activities seem less dangerous. Participants in a new study ingested 1000 mg of the drug or a placebo and were asked to rate certain activities for risk.

The study, conducted by Ohio State University, builds on previous work that determined that acetaminophen has an impact on the user’s psychosis because it was found to reduce positive emotions and negative, such as hurt feelings, worry about the suffering of others, and even their own joy.

Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State University, said: “Acetaminophen appears to make people feel less negative emotions when considering risky activities – they don’t. ‘just not so scared. “

“With nearly 25 percent of the population in the United States taking acetaminophen every week, reduced risk perception and increased risk-taking could have significant effects on society.”

The study enrolled 189 students who were given either 1000 mg of the drug or a placebo that looked exactly the same – this group was told it was acetaminophen before ingesting it.

The study enrolled 189 students who were given either 1000 mg of the drug or a placebo that looked exactly the same - this group was told it was acetaminophen before ingesting it.  After the drug took effect, volunteers were asked to complete a survey that ranked certain activities according to risk.

The study enrolled 189 students who were given either 1000 mg of the drug or a placebo that looked exactly the same – this group was told it was acetaminophen before ingesting it. After the drug took effect, volunteers were asked to complete a survey that ranked certain activities according to risk.

People under the influence of acetaminophen rated activities like bungee jumping or starting a new career in their mid-30s as less risky than those who took the placebo.

People under the influence of acetaminophen rated activities like bungee jumping or starting a new career in their mid-30s as less risky than those who took the placebo.

After the drug took effect, volunteers were asked to complete a survey that ranked certain activities according to risk.

The results showed that people under the influence of acetaminophen considered activities like bungee jumping, coming home alone at night to a dangerous part of town, starting a new career in their mid-30s, and taking a skydiving course as being less risky than those who took the placebo.

The effects of acetaminophen on risk taking were also tested in three separate experimental studies.

For one of the studies, 545 undergraduates were also given doses of acetaminophen before participating in a number of tasks measuring risky behaviors.

These exercises have been used to predict behaviors such as alcohol and drug use, theft, and driving without a seat belt.

Volunteers were asked to click a button that inflated a balloon on a computer screen and each time it inflated the individual received virtual money.

However, they were allowed to stop at any time and add more money to their ‘bank’ and move on to the next balloon – but there is a risk.

“As you pump the balloon it gets bigger and bigger on your computer screen and you make more money with each pump,” Way said.

Acetaminophen is the main ingredient in Tylenol and is used by 25 percent of the American population.  It was pushed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a way to treat the initial symptoms of the coronavirus and suggests that people with a mild case may not have seen leaving their homes as a risk - thus spreading the virus to others

Acetaminophen is the main ingredient in Tylenol and is used by 25 percent of the American population. It was pushed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a way to treat the initial symptoms of the coronavirus and suggests that people with a mild case may not have seen leaving their homes as a risk – thus spreading the virus to others

“But as he grows up you have this decision to make: should I keep pumping and see if I can make more money, knowing that if he bursts I will lose the money I made with that balloon? “

The results mimicked those from the previous study – those who took acetaminophen continued to pump.

The results showed that those on the drug pumped more times than those on the placebo and had more balloons burst.

“If you’re risk-averse, you can pump a few times and then decide to cash in because you don’t want the ball to burst and lose your money,” Way said.

“But for those who take acetaminophen, as the balloon gets bigger, we think they have less anxiety and less negative emotions about the size of the balloon and the possibility of it bursting.”

The findings have various implications in real life, Way said.

For example, acetaminophen is the CDC’s recommended treatment for early symptoms of coronvirus.

“Maybe a person with mild symptoms of COVID-19 may not think it is this risky to leave their home and meet people if they are taking acetaminophen,” Way said.

“We really need more research into the effects of acetaminophen and other over-the-counter drugs on the choices and the risks we take,” he said.