Taking Acetaminophen And Alcohol – What Are The Risks?

Acetaminophen And Alcohol

by tonystl under CC


Every one of us suffers from everyday aches and pains. One of the most common medications people take for these ailments is over the counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). In the last couple of years, there has been a lot of publicity about the dangers of taking acetaminophen with alcohol. Acetaminophen and alcohol – what are the health risks you may be wondering.

The manufacturer of Tylenol recommends that if you drink more than three alcoholic beverages each day that you should not take this drug without consulting your physician or practitioner. Why is this so? To answer that question, it is very important to analyze how acetaminophen is metabolized in the body.

Normally, there are enzymes that are in the liver that oxidize acetaminophen, and in that process, it creates a byproduct that is toxic called NAPQI. In general, only a tiny part of the Tylenol gets oxidized and the liver can easily remove that harmful by product by using one of its antioxidants.

Now when alcohol is added to the mix, the process changes a bit. Chronic drinking increases the activity of those enzymes that oxidize acetaminophen into NAPQI– so when Tylenol is taken, more NAPQI is produced. Alcohol also inhibits the storage of the antioxidant that removes those harmful byproducts, so your body cannot handle the accumulation of them.

Because of this fact, it lowers the safe dosage of acetaminophen; even a normal amount that is approved by the FDA can cause a lot of liver damage or death. Studies have noticed that drinking a significant amount of alcohol in one dose is usually less likely to cause damage, as opposed to those individuals who drink chronically. This is due to the fact that alcohol competes with the liver enzymes that oxidize Tylenol- so if these enzymes are oxidizing your alcoholic beverages, they are too busy to oxidize the acetaminophen.

So the bottom line for people who normally consume more than three drinks a day, or for those who like to drink regularly, it is not a safe idea to take alcohol with acetaminophen. Even for those who drink less often, a weekend of heavy drinking can drastically increase the chance of liver damage. You may wonder if this applies for the times you may want to take acetaminophen for a hangover; studies are still inconclusive but if you want to be cautious it would probably be best to avoid using this medication all together.

To sum it all up, acetaminophen & alcohol are two very common drugs out there on the market. Both are both consumed regularly by many individuals. However, when you closely examine the research on the subject, it is quite apparent that there are some very severe and dangerous risks for combining the two. It would be easy to substitute on or the other in order to protect your health and the health of your loved ones around you- otherwise you will soon see the disastrous consequences of the mixture of these two drugs. Check also article about the dangers of advil in mix with alcoholic beverages.


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