If you have a headache or minor pain, you probably reach for Tylenol or other versions of acetaminophen. It’s so common, you most likely don’t think twice about popping a couple—it seems like every day someone at the office is asking a coworker if they have any to spare.
But in light of this news, you may want to take a closer look at how often you’re taking the over-the-counter drug. According to a new study published in the Journal of Hepatology, 500 people are expected to die this year after taking Tylenol and other acetaminophen alternatives. The reason? Liver damage. Researchers revealed this type of common pain killer causes 46 percent of all cases of liver failure in the U.S., as well as 100,000 calls to American poison control centers and 50,000 emergency room visits every year.
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Per the study’s findings, the “line between a dose that causes liver failure and a dose that relieves pain is very fine,” but the FDA has approved more than 600 acetaminophen products, which include everything from OTC sleep aids to prescription acetaminophen-opioid drugs.
Study author Dr. William M. Lee, a liver disease specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says acetaminophen should “go away” and be replaced with a nontoxic alternative.
“Every year, FDA-approved drugs kill hundreds of thousands of people,” said Gretchen DuBeau, executive and legal director for the Alliance for Natural Health USA. “The numbers are astounding, yet too often the spotlight is on dietary supplements, products which are overwhelmingly safe and beneficial for the millions of Americans who take them to the stay healthy. This study is a reminder of the real threat to our health and safety.”