Did you know that in the U.S. alone last year, acetaminophen (branded Tylenol) was responsible for over 100,000 calls to poison control centers? Tylenol is responsible for about 56,000 visits to the Emergency room annually and also receives credit for around 450 deaths each year due to liver failure. A little know fact is that acetaminophen causes more liver failures than all other medications combined.
However, liver failure associated with the use of acetaminophen should not be new news to anyone. However, what is probably new to most is the growing amount of evidence that indicate acetaminophen may actually have negative side-affects on our brain!
Tylenol Causes Brain Damage
A joint study conducted by the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia is the leading official neurological study looking into the mental affects of Tylenol. Researchers explain that since pain and decision making (especially when evaluating what to do after a mistake) are both handled in the same part of the brain, acetaminophen might affect both (since we know it affects pain). When researchers asked test subjects to choose the correct target between two choices in rapid succession, they tested the brain response in that area of the brain. When a mistake was made, those who took acetaminophen showed less brain reaction and stimulus after making a mistake. If the results are accurate, it could mean that cognitive control and ability is impaired when taking acetaminophen.
Expecting mothers should be acutely aware of the dangerous side-affects of all medications they take, including Tylenol. There are currently at least 8 published medical studies (2 of them in JAMA pediatrics, 2014 and 2016) warning about the risks of using Tylenol during pregnancy. All study’s indicate long term neurological damage to infants who’s mother took acetaminophen during pregnancy. Also, be aware that the leading manufacturer of acetaminophen (Tylenol) in the U.S. acknowledges that not one of the tests conducted to evaluate the safety of Tylenol in infants tested at brain function.
Of course further tests and evaluations need to be conducted to better understand the potential impacts of acetaminophen on brain activity. However, given it’s well established history of causing liver damage, we should all be extra cautious about using this product for pain as it may be damaging a lot more than your liver!