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Tylenol Use May Cause Asthma

Well over three years ago I posted an article that suggested a link between the increasing use of the pain reliever acetaminophen and a dramatic rise in asthma cases. It is not clear why, but the number of asthma cases in the United States has more than doubled in less than three decades. During the same time, acetaminophen use grew as the popularity of aspirin for pain and fever relief declined. This was especially true among young children following reports in the early 1980s linking childhood aspirin use to a potentially fatal condition known as Reye's syndrome. Women taking part in a large, ongoing health study were more likely to be diagnosed with adult-onset asthma if they reported taking greater amounts of the analgesic found in Tylenol and many other over-the-counter pain medications.

Acetaminophen may predispose susceptible people to asthma by decreasing levels of an antioxidant in the lungs. It has been suggested that the antioxidant helps protect the lungs against free radicals -- unstable compounds that destroy cells. Lower levels of antioxidants may predispose people to lung injury and spasm in the lung airways, which is characteristic of asthma. It is also important to always remember to avoid combining Tyelonol with aspirin as regular use can lead to kidney damage.

American Journal Respiratory Critical Care Medicine April 2004;169(7):836-41

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