Regularly taking acetaminophen, or Tylenol, and ibuprofen, popularly sold as Advil, may double a woman's risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a study by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
In the wake of new research linking the popular over-the-counter pain relievers acetaminophen, best known as Tylenol, and ibuprofen, often sold as Advil, to high blood pressure, you may think twice.
High doses of acetaminophen have been associated with liver and kidney damage, but the new study found double the risk of hypertension among women who took the equivalent of one Tylenol extra-strength pill daily compared to women who didn't take the pills.
The researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital even speculated that regular use of drugs like Tylenol and Advil could be a contributing factor to the growing prevalence of hypertension in the United States.
Acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin have long been the pills of choice for headache sufferers, weekend warriors with muscle aches, and people coping with chronic pain caused by conditions like arthritis.
"Taking a couple of Tylenol for headaches is different from someone who takes it every day," says Dr. Christie Ballantyne, a cardiologist at Houston's Methodist DeBakey Heart Center.
While some doctors express doubts about the evidence in the study --- it was based on questionnaires, not a randomized clinical trial --- they nevertheless are recommending a new level of caution for people who take the painkillers regularly.
"We used to think acetaminophen was pretty safe," says Dr. Franz Messerli, director of the hypertension program as St. Luke's Roosevelt Medical Center, New York.
A spokeswoman for McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures Tylenol
, counters that because the study was based on questionnaires of past behavior rather than rigorous clinical testing, it did not establish a definitive relationship between acetaminophen use and hypertension.
"We would always advise consumers to contact their physician if they have concerns about interactions with medications, says spokeswoman Kathy Fallon.
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