Paracetamol, which is also known as acetaminophen or acetaminophen, is the most common pain reliever medicine in the world. However, recent research found that this drug would provide more than headache relief.
After analyzing more than 500 students, a group of experts from Ohio State University associated paracetamol with risk behaviors.
“It seems to make people feel less negative emotions when they do risky activities. They just don’t feel that scared, ”she said in Ohio State News, Baldwin Way, author of the new work published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
According to Way, “with nearly 25% of the US population taking acetaminophen each week, the reduction of risk perception and the increase of risky behaviors could have important effects on society ”.
Although these effects may be mild, specialists consider them worth noting, since Acetaminophen is the most common pharmaceutical ingredient in the United States., and it’s found in more than 600 different types of prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
Acetaminophen is used to relieve mild to moderate pain in the head, muscles, menstrual period, throat, molars, fever, or colds.
It usually comes in tablets (which may or may not be chewable), capsules, solutions (liquids), tablets, or suppositories.
Among its most common side effects are:
- Peeling of the skin
- Redness of the skin.
- Swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, lips, eyes, tongue, throat, or face.
- Trouble breathing or swallowing
In cases of overdose, extreme tiredness, stomach pain, loss of appetite, sweating, bleeding, and vomiting or nausea may be experienced.
Paracetamol is widely marketed under the brand names: Tylenol®, Panadol®, Aceta®, Conacetol®, Panex®, Ridenol®, T-Panol®, among others.
Changes in behavior
These new findings add information to the evidence already available on the links between the changes in behavior and use of over-the-counter medications.
Although only hypotheses are still being evaluated, it is likely that the effects of paracetamol on reducing pain also extend to certain psychological processes, reducing people’s receptivity to painful feelings, experiencing a reduced empathy and even weakening cognitive function.
The data in the new study came from more than 500 college students who were given a single 1,000 mg dose by the researchers. acetaminophen (the maximum recommended single dose for adults) randomized.
The inclination to risk behavior was known by comparing those who consumed paracetamol with a control group through a computer game.
This consisted of inflating a balloon and each pumping provided imaginary money. The goal was to get the most money, but without overfilling the balloon, otherwise it could explode and all the profit was lost.
The results showed that the students who took acetaminophen took more risks during exercise, pumping and even popping their balloons much more than those who did not take the drug.
In addition to this simulation, participants also completed surveys during two of the experiments, rating the level of risk they perceived in various hypothetical scenarios, such as gambling their one-day earnings on a sporting event or driving without a belt.
Based on an average of results in the various tests, Way and his team concluded that there is a significant relationship between taking acetaminophen and opting for higher risk behavior, even if it is mild.
Way believes his findings could be useful for understand certain social behaviors, taking into account the incidence of paracetamol, and which is on the list of essential medicines of the World Health Organization.
“Really we need more research about the effects of acetaminophen and other over-the-counter medications on the options and risks we take, ”Way said.
Specialists hope that future research will explore the biological mechanisms responsible for this shift towards risky behavior that was seen in people who took paracetamol.