Is there any everyday ailment that Tylenol, also called acetaminophen and paracetamol, can’t cure, or at least make more bearable? Got a headache? Tylenol. Fever? Tylenol. There’s a reason it’s one of the most popular medications in the world. In fact, if you’re like most people, you probably have some in your home right now.
But despite its popularity, Tylenol does pose a few risks. A report from 2013 showed that it's surprisingly easy to overdose from Tylenol, since it can easily damage your liver, which is why it's not recommended that you use the medication to fight a hangover. While the drug’s reputation as a liver killer is well-documented, new research suggests that Tylenol might also affect an aspect of your life that you probably never considered: your ability to spot errors and make decisions.
According to researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada, Tylenol can slightly impair your cognitive function when using it to treat other ailments. This means if you were to take the recommended dose of Tylenol right now, you would react slower than someone not on the medication.
To come to this conclusion, the team had 62 participants perform a double-blind, randomised experiment that involved half of the participants taking the maximum recommended dose of Tylenol - 1,000 milligrams - and the other half taking placebos, reports Stephen Feller from UPI.
Next, the participants performed a test that involved hitting a certain button when an "F" appeared on a computer screen, and not hitting the button when an "E" appeared. This is called a No/NoGo test, and it basically gauges how fast and accurate a person’s decisions are.
When all was said and done, the group that took the Tylenol ended up hitting the button when "E" appeared and also missed the "F" pop-ups more frequently than those who took the placebo. According to the team, this indicates that Tylenol could make it harder for a person to make accurate, quick decisions.
Right now, we only have a correlation between taking Tylenol and making more mistakes, and a relatively small sample size, and the researchers aren't ready to offer up any biological explanations. But the results do suggest that something could be going on here.
One of the most common drugs on the market - that requires no prescription - could potentially hinder cognitive function, which is a bummer for those of us who throw Tylenol at every headache we get. Hopefully someone will conduct a larger follow-up study so we can really get to the bottom of why this link could exist.
The team’s findings were published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.