New research in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has found that if you take acetaminophen long term or very regularly, you are at increased risk of getting blood cancers.
Recently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked that the amount of acetaminophen in tablets be reduced to try to limit the number of accidental overdoses that occur each year and requested that manufacturers put stronger warnings on their patient information leaflets.
The new study would seem to suggest that liver failure is only one of the life threatening problems associated with acetaminophen use.
As part of a vitamins and lifestyle study from 2000-2002, 64,839 men and women aged 50 to 76 years were studied. After doctors accounted for any people who had a family history of blood cancers, who smoked or who were chronically ill, they still found that the risk of blood malignancies increased among high acetaminophen users.
For those who took the painkiller four times a week or more for more than four years, the risk of myeloid neoplasms, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and plasma cell disorders increased.
When they looked at other drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen, they didn’t find the same association. They concluded:
"High use of acetaminophen was associated with an almost two-fold increased risk of incident hematologic malignancies other than CLL/SLL. Neither aspirin nor nonaspirin NSAIDs are likely useful for prevention of hematologic malignancies.”
Source: Long-Term Use of Acetaminophen, Aspirin, and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and Risk of Hematologic Malignancies: Results From the Prospective Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) Study – Journal of Clinical Oncology, 9th May 2011 - http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/early/2011/05/06/JCO.2011.34.6346.abstract?sid=90ddab76-e2bc-41cf-864d-eef4c659ba44
Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting, in addition to running a charity for people damaged by vaccines or medical mistakes.