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Use of acetaminophen linked to kidney disease.

Use of Acetaminophen Linked to Kidney Disease

Long-term or heavy use of acetaminophen, an aspirin substitute used in dozens of over-the-counter pain relievers, may cause kidney damage, according to Dale P. Sandler, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and colleagues.

In a study that retrospectively compared the use of phenacetin, acetaminophen, and/ or aspirin-containing compounds among 554 adults with newly diagnosed kidney disease and 516 matched controls, the investigators found that daily users of acetaminophen had 3.21 times the risk of kidney disease compared with infrequent users. The risk associated with weekly use of the drug was not as clear-cut Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in such pain killers as Tylenol and Anacin-3. The risk of kidney disease was five times greater among daily users of phenacetin, a parent compound of acetaminophen that was voluntarily removed several years ago after reports linked its use to kidney damage. No increased risk was reported in daily users of aspirin.

In the present review, the risk associated with acetaminophen use increased with the number of pills taken each day and the frequency of use, although the risk was not affected by the number of years that the drug had been taken after five years. The authors called their findings "tentative." The study was carried out at several hospitals in North Carolina, a part of the country where analgesics tend to be used heavily.

Since 1985, analgesic manufacturers and the Food and Drug Administration chose not to heed the recommendation of the National Kidney Foundation that package inserts specify the risk factors for kidney damage caused by nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs - a class of drugs, such as ibuprofen, that recently has gained widespread popularity as pain relievers.

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jun 22, 1989
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