December 9, 2022

Warning to anyone taking paracetamol about ‘weird side effects’

A WARNING has been issued to anyone taking paracetamol due to a bizarre side effect.

American scientists have found that the common painkiller can do more than just relieve your headache.


Experts have found that paracetamol can make you feel more tolerant of risky situationsCredit: Getty – Contributor

A team of scientists from Ohio State University found that paracetamol can alter your perception of risk, potentially putting you at risk.

The drug, known as acetaminophen in the US, is one of the most commonly used pain relievers and can be used to treat moderate pain and reduce high temperature, according to the NHS.

It rarely causes side effects, if you stick to the right dosage.

But US researchers found that those taking the drug were more likely to take the risk than those given a placebo.

Urgent warning to millions of Britons as paracetamol 'raises' heart attack risk

Neuroscientist Baldwin Way, co-author of the study, said: “Acetaminophen appears to cause people to experience fewer negative emotions when considering risky activities – they just don’t feel not so scared.

“With nearly 25% of the US population taking acetaminophen weekly, reduced risk perception and increased risk taking could have significant effects on society.”

The latest study, published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience in 2020, adds to other investigations by Way’s team.

They found that the painkiller had psychological effects, reducing both positive and negative emotions, including hurt feelings, distress at another person’s suffering, and even a person’s own joy.

In one study, 189 participants received either 1,000 mg of painkiller – the recommended dose for treating a headache – or a placebo drug.

After waiting for the pill to take effect, the volunteers were asked to rate the risk they thought various activities posed, on a scale of one to seven.

Researchers found that people under the influence of paracetamol rated activities like going home alone at night in a dangerous area, skydiving, bungee jumping and changing careers in their thirties as less risky. less risky than those taking the placebo.

In another experiment, involving 545 undergraduate students, scientists measured risky behavior using a virtual test.

Students had to click a button on the computer to inflate a virtual balloon, each time they inflated it they were rewarded with virtual money.

With nearly 25% of the population in the United States taking acetaminophen weekly, decreasing risk perception and increasing risk taking could have significant effects on society.

Neuroscientist, Baldwin WayOhio State University

They could stop at any time and “hoard” the money, or keep trying to make more money knowing there was a risk of the balloon bursting.

Way’s team found that those who took paracetamol were more likely to keep trying to inflate the balloon, pumping more times than those on the placebo and popping more balloons.

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

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

Other studies have shown that people who take more risks during the ball challenge are more likely to engage in risky behaviors outside of the lab, including driving without a seatbelt, stealing, and using drugs and alcohol. ‘alcohol.


A previous study found that paracetamol could not be more effective than a placebo pill for common injuries and illnesses.

Writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, in April 2021, researchers based at the University of Sydney found that the common painkiller is most ineffective when taken for acute back pain.

Experts said: “Although paracetamol is widely used, its effectiveness in relieving pain has only been established for a handful of conditions and its benefits are often modest.

“High or moderate quality evidence that paracetamol (usually 0.5 to 1 g, single or multiple doses) is superior to placebo in relieving pain was only available for four of the 44 pain conditions reviewed.”

Another study of the pills found that “hidden” ingredients may increase your risk of heart attack or premature death.

Most people are unaware that salt is sometimes added to paracetamol to help it break down in water.

But researchers at Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, China, estimate that 170 out of 10,000 adults in the UK use salt-containing medicines.

Lead researcher Professor Chao Zeng said, “People should pay attention not only to the salt intake in their diet, but also not to neglect the hidden salt intake of medicines in their cabinet.

“Our results suggest reviewing the safety profile of effervescent and soluble paracetamol.”

In people with high blood pressure, the risk of heart attack, stroke or heart failure after one year was 5.6% in the salt-paracetamol group.

This compares to 4.6% in people with hypertension taking sodium-free paracetamol, according to results published in the European Heart Journal.