Americans Take too Much Acetaminophen
According to a new study, adults may be taking too much over-the-counter acetaminophen daily, leaving them at increased risk of liver damage.
More than half of the 500 respondents in the study, conducted by researchers at Northwestern University, said they took acetaminophen every day or a few times a week. That dosage, researchers said, classified the subjects as heavy users.
The study, conducted at outpatient clinics in Atlanta and Chicago, also revealed that respondents often took much more than they should: Although the recommended dose of acetaminophen is 4,000 mg in a 24-hour period, some respondents were taking up to 12,000 mg daily. Some even simultaneously took two products containing acetaminophen.
Acetaminophen is the most commonly used over-the-counter pain reliever, and researchers said their results indicated the need for greater consumer education—especially because acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause of acute liver failure.
"Our findings suggest that many consumers do not recognize or differentiate the active ingredient in [over-the-counter] pain medicines, nor do they necessarily closely adhere to package or label instructions," Dr. Michael Wolf, an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern, said in a statement. "We believe this to be a serious public-health threat requiring urgent attention."
The findings were published online in the “Journal of General Internal Medicine.”