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California Considers Declaring Common Painkiller Carcinogenic

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

common painkiller carcinogenic

Story at-a-glance -

  • California state regulators are considering adding acetaminophen (Tylenol) to the list of carcinogens covered by Proposition 65
  • Acetaminophen is related to phenacetin, an over-the-counter painkiller banned by the FDA in 1983 because of links to cancer
  • In the U.S., more than 200 people a year die from acetaminophen poisoning and acetaminophen is the top cause of acute liver failure; overdoses are a leading cause of emergency department visits and hospitalizations
  • Acetaminophen is linked to three skin conditions that are rare but also can be life-threatening; when used with alcohol it can cause kidney dysfunction
  • Acetaminophen poses risks during pregnancy and should be avoided

Millions of people take acetaminophen, commonly known as the brand name drug Tylenol, frequently. People use acetaminophen for treating everything from fevers and muscle aches to headaches, hangovers and other pain. Because acetaminophen is available over the counter and is an ingredient found in many other preparations such as those for cold and flu, few people think twice about taking it. They should.

Acetaminophen is the top cause of acute liver failure in the U.S. and overdoses are a leading cause of emergency department visits and hospitalizations. According to UT Southwestern Medical Center, more than 200 people a year die from acetaminophen poisoning in the U.S. and there are 15,000 hospital visits due to accidentally taking too much.


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