A link between Acetaminophen and Asthma
December 22, 2011 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Studies Suggest an Acetaminophen-Asthma Link. When aspirin was linked to Reye's syndrome in children during the 1980s, the resulting increase in acetaminophen use may have had some negative effects. "...there is now a plausible explanation for how acetaminophen might provoke or worsen asthma, a chronic inflammatory condition of the lungs. Even a single dose of acetaminophen can reduce the body’s levels of glutathione, a peptide that helps repair oxidative damage that can drive inflammation in the airways, researchers have found."
posted by storybored (26 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Another acetaminophen hazard previously.
posted by storybored at 8:13 PM on December 22, 2011


Fun times. It's unfortunately the only over-the-counter pain reliever I can take, because of my history of stomach bleeding. And now Tylenol seems to be a bad choice too because of my history of asthma. Perhaps the glutathione link is why my asthma mysteriously went away (except if I get a really bad cold) after I started eating more unprocessed foods, which are higher in glutathione and glutathione precursors, particularly raw foods.
posted by melissam at 8:29 PM on December 22, 2011


Huh, interesting. My naturopath put me on N-AC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) for detoxification/chelation of metals, etc. and I noticed that it really cleared up my lungs and made my breathing that much better. Oddly enough, I just looked it up and it's used by MDs in cases of Acetaminophin (and carbon monoxide) poisoning. I guess there was some validity to it after all.
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:32 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


If Tylenol were not owned by Johnson & Johnson, I would imagine acetaminophen would be determined hazardous enough to be prescription only if not under even stricter controls. It does have a purpose, but there are so many hazards that I'm surprised that it's used for young children at all, let alone so widely.
posted by Saydur at 8:34 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


1000monkeys, N-AC will also prevent hangovers if you take 200 mg per serving of alcohol.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:37 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


N-AC will also prevent hangovers if you take 200 mg per serving of alcohol.

where would someone get this magical substance?
posted by selenized at 8:41 PM on December 22, 2011


Great. I have arthritis, am allergic to aspirin & therefore ibuprofen as well so rely on acetaminophen, and guess what; am prone to asthma. I quit.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 8:42 PM on December 22, 2011


I just took some paracetamol. I'll let you know if it makes it harder for me to breath.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 8:47 PM on December 22, 2011


The real tragedy of the pharmaceutical industry is that we already had a perfectly good set of naturally-sourced drugs we have failed to adequately research or utilize for nearly a century, all thanks to the giant clusterfuck that was Prohibition.
posted by mek at 8:50 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps the glutathione link is why my asthma mysteriously went away (except if I get a really bad cold) after I started eating more unprocessed foods, which are higher in glutathione and glutathione precursors, particularly raw foods.

This may be unlikely. According to the wiki:

Research suggests that glutathione taken orally is not well absorbed across the gastrointestinal tract. In a study of acute oral administration of a very large dose (3 grams) of oral glutathione, Witschi and coworkers found "it is not possible to increase circulating glutathione to a clinically beneficial extent by the oral administration of a single dose of 3 g of glutathione."
posted by storybored at 8:54 PM on December 22, 2011


Research suggests that glutathione taken orally is not well absorbed across the gastrointestinal tract. In a study of acute oral administration of a very large dose (3 grams) of oral glutathione, Witschi and coworkers found "it is not possible to increase circulating glutathione to a clinically beneficial extent by the oral administration of a single dose of 3 g of glutathione."

Yes, but in mouse studies, when fed a drug that inhibits glutathione synthesis, dietary glutathione did boost tissue levels. Acetaminophen is apparently such a drug. But the aforementioned article mainly focuses on foods that contain precursors which are documented to boost glutathione, such as raw whey protein.
posted by melissam at 9:02 PM on December 22, 2011


I have arthritis, am allergic to aspirin & therefore ibuprofen

Do you know for sure that you are allergic to ibuprofen? Though they are both NSAIDs, aspirin is a salicylate while ibuprofen is a propionic acid derivative ( they are chemically quite different).
posted by storybored at 9:03 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy smoking crap!
As someone who's had arthritis from a very young age, I've taken a lot of acetmenacin. I'm already on an NSAID, so asprin is out. I already limit my dose to 1 caplet instead of 2 because it is liver toxic and my NSAID is also liver toxic.

I began with horrible coughing whenever I got sick @ 13 years. I began classic asthma attacks when I was 17. Since then I was diagnosed with asthma/cough variant.

crapcrapcrapcrap.

Balancing all of my medical issues/medications has been the bane of my life :(
Thanks for the information.
posted by Librarygeek at 9:07 PM on December 22, 2011


A useful and important post. Will someone please change the tag to "acetaminophen", to match the proper spelling?
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:26 PM on December 22, 2011


selenized: I don't know where you can get it from in the states but here in Canada, you can get it at most high-end health and nutrition supplement stores. Possibly Whole Foods? Just make sure you get a high-quality version. I got mine directly from my naturopath. Be forewarned, IIRC it smells like eggs (sulphuric) so don't try to sniff it lol
posted by 1000monkeys at 9:45 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damn. I have asthma, but have never taken much acetaminophen, so I can't blame it on that. :) And ibuprofen makes my joints bruise, and aspirin makes me bleed easily. Morphinei for me, I guess.

OTOH, my asthma, post-nasal drip, and chronic bronchitis cleared the heck up when my husband finally stopped smoking, even though he never smoked on the same floor.
posted by Peach at 9:47 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


selenized: "where would someone get this magical substance?"

NAC will not actually prevent an ethanol hangover. I've prescribed NAC sometimes - its main drawback is that it smells like arse (lots of sulphur in it) and has a distinctly unpleasant mouthfeel. Quite poor "compliance" among patients. Because it's dirt cheap and available industrially for profitable repackaging, it's unfortunately been seized on by the woo brigade as a ka-ching "treatment" for autism and other relatively intractable syndromes.

The key quote from this random collection of mainly retrospective studies and meta-analyses is '“It’s hard to tease out whether it’s the drug or the viral infection.” ' Viruses (and individuals' relatively varied responses to infection), cats, pollen and house dust are the massive contributors (both as early sensitisers and later triggers) to allergy-induced asthma and rhinitis, and we know that between 1/10 and 1/20 people with asthma are sensitive to leukotriene excess, where NSAIDS (aspirin in particular) can cause everything from mild rhinitis through bronchospasm to anaphylaxis. So unless you go get worked up by either/both a pulmonologist and an allergist to evaluate *your* specific triggers and sensitivities, your best bet to reduce asthma severity and frequency is to dust control your sleeping space, get rid of your pet, avoid URIs and NSAIDs, use an inhaled cortiocosteroid if prescribed, and control stress.
posted by meehawl at 9:48 PM on December 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


[ fixed tag]
posted by taz (staff) at 9:56 PM on December 22, 2011


NAC will not actually prevent an ethanol hangover.

That just ruined all my weekend plans.
posted by selenized at 9:56 PM on December 22, 2011


Do you know for sure that you are allergic to ibuprofen?

I asked the same of my allergist before I went in for hip arthroscopy. He said for folks in my situation it is very rare not to have a cross-reaction from ibuprofen, so recommended against my trying it.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:34 PM on December 22, 2011


Related: Samter's Triad.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:40 PM on December 22, 2011


But still no link between vaccines and autism, huh? Imagine that.
posted by LordSludge at 11:07 PM on December 22, 2011


So I was curious about the LD/50 of N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine, particularly after the level of shock people showed in a post the other day about the possibility of eating enough salt to kill ones self. I could all too easily see someone taking care of their hangover once and for all. Good news - it's about as high as table salt (but don't take that as some kind of personal challenge).

On the MSDS, right below the LD/50 was this paragraph:

Potential Acute Health Effects:
Very hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant, permeator), of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation. Inflammation of the eye is characterized by redness, watering, and itching. Skin inflammation is characterized by itching, scaling, reddening, or, occasionally, blistering.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!?!?! I'll just drink a couple extra Mountain Dews if I need metal chelation that bad.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:12 AM on December 23, 2011


Back to morphine I guess.
posted by spitbull at 2:56 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Our pediatrician told us this a few weeks - that we should only give our baby Tylenol if his fever goes above 100.4° because it's been linked to asthma.
posted by exhilaration at 7:38 AM on December 23, 2011


Thanks for the mythbusting, meehawl. I had heard somewhere that cysteine helped the body break down acetaldehyde, the metabolite of ethanol that actually causes the worst parts of hangovers. It sure seemed to work for me, but I can't discount the placebo effect.

To bring this comment back on topic, after hearing about acetaminophen's effects on the liver, I definitely won't be taking any Tylenol for my next hangover.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:56 AM on December 23, 2011


« Older it came upon a Bb minor diminished 7th clear   |   The feat list hurts my brain Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments