Researchers have linked the use of the painkiller
acetaminophen (Tylenol) to both asthma and rhinitis. Individuals who used
acetaminophen on a daily or weekly basis were shown to exhibit far more severe
symptoms of asthma and rhinitis than those who didn't use the drug. (Thorax
Acetaminophen has been shown to deplete the compound
glutathione from lung tissue. Glutathione is a very important antioxidant that
can limit lung tissue inflammation. Also, there is a direct relationship between
glutathione levels and premature aging. You can read more about this under
Poisoning in the article called
Scientists Know About Aging."
Acetaminophen-containing products (Tylenol, Midol, Alka-Seltzer Plus,
Vanquish, etc.) result in over 100,000 calls a year to poison control centers,
560,000 visits to emergency facilities, 260,000 hospitalizations, and 450
deaths. From 1996 to 1998 the average annual deaths directly attributed to
acetaminophen averaged approximately 458. I wonder what the regulatory agencies
would do if a supplement were to kill 450 people a year?
Confidential documents revealed that the FDA has purposely avoided addressing
the dangers of acetaminophen to avoid offending Johnson and Johnson (the
dominant marketer of acetaminophen products) and the pharmaceutical industry. (BMJ
The regulating authorities in the United Kingdom recognized that they were
having the same problems, and required that acetaminophen be blister-packed
instead of sold as bottles of loose tablets. Their research indicated that
individuals would be less likely to overdose when the medication was packaged
differently. By simply repackaging the acetaminophen, they have significantly
reduced the number of drug-related poisonings, liver transplantations, and
deaths. (RJM 01;322:1203-7)
I doubt that any such thing will happen in the U.S., simply because the
change in packaging resulted in UK sales of acetaminophen products dropping from
$123 billion to $84 billion. Thus, although 50 million Americans take some form
of acetaminophen for pain each week, the FDA proceeds as if the known side
effects, such as immune suppression, hearing loss, liver damage, and even death,
are all acceptable risks for a pain reliever.
The FDA and other "watchdog" government agencies seldom are called
to account for erroneous or irresponsible decisions. In the Dow Chemical
silicone breast implant suit, the government was recently awarded $9.8 million
for medical expenses paid out through Medicare and Medicaid. It didn't seem to
matter that another agency, the FDA, of the same government had previously
approved the use and sale of these implants and is currently considering whether
to allow them to be sold again.
Further, these same agencies show definite bias when it comes to evaluating
the risks associated with drugs. A good example is the fact that the agencies
are constantly pushing for vaccinations and flu shots. For some reason, however,
they neglect to tell the public that the preservative in these flu shots and
vaccines is mercury.
It seems that many over-the-counter drugs that are generally
considered harmless are instead shortening our lives and contributing to serious
health problems. The latest figures show that roughly two million people are now
being hospitalized each year from drug side effects and more than 100,000 of
them die from those effects. That's enough to make drug side effects the fourth
leading cause of death in the U.S.
A Positive Role for
You may have seen one of many bizarre
television programs showing how brown tree snakes have practically taken over
this island of Guam. Since an accidental introduction in the 1940s, these snakes
have mushroomed in population to as high as an estimated 26,000 snakes per
square mile. Since they have no natural enemies, they have decimated the lizard,
rabbit, and bird populations. and been known to eat piglets, puppies, and even
bite unattended babies. And by crawling along power lines, they've created
electrical shorts resulting in local blackouts. All efforts thus far to
eradicate the snakes have been ineffective.
When researchers placed two 40-milligram acetaminophen tablets inside dead,
newborn mice and fed them to the snakes, every snake that took the bait died.
Since previous toxicology studies have shown that the drug poses little risk to
other wildlife and domestic animals, it appears that Tylenol may be the answer
to the snake problem.