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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Acetaminophen & NSAID use - The Risks: Heart Attacks & Blood Cancers

I read two interesting studies lately about acetaminophen (tylenol) and NSAIDs of the cox-2 variety ( rofecoxib, celecoxib, etc).

We were told previously that cox-2 non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can have adverse effects on the heart. The latest study in the journal Circulation arrives at the same conclusion. To sum up the study, the authors show that patients with prior heart attacks, NSAIDs use increased the risk of death and recurrent heart attacks in as little as one week of use. There was a 45% increased risk of death or recurrent heart attack in the first seven days of treatment and a 55% increased risk of treatment continued for three months. So the conclusion for those of you who have had prior myocardial infarctions, stay off the cox-2 inhibitor NSAIDs. Cox-1 inhibitors such as aspirin and tylenol are better for short term use.

Having said that, the newest research on acetaminophen in the Journal of Clinical Oncology shows that chronic users of acetaminophen nearly doubled their risk of developing blood type cancers like lymphoma and myeloma.

To quote the author:
"A person who is age 50 or older has about a one-percent risk in ten years of getting one of these cancers," White said. "Our study suggests that if you use acetaminophen at least four times a week for at least four years, that would increase the risk to about two percent."

Some of you might be thinking, who uses tylenol four times per week? I can tell you that there are a lot of people out there who use pain killers daily. No one wants to live in pain. Sometimes there are other options like acupuncture, cupping or the use of some herbs to help. At other times, medication is needed. But just as with all things in life, there are trade-offs and one needs to know the risks. I hope this information helps you to make an informed decision.

Yours in Health,
Ian Koo, ND

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