Alcohol isn?t the only beverage to avoid if you take painkillers

October 30, 2007
Volume 04    |   Issue 44

Doctors have warned for years not to drink alcohol when you take acetaminophen. The combination of alcohol and this painkiller can damage your liver. But researchers at the University of Washington say this isn?t the only potentially lethal combination to watch out for. And nobody is warning you about it, except me.

In their recent study, the researchers found two other beverages that can cause a harmful interaction - coffee or soft drinks. They say the combination of acetaminophen and caffeine can be dangerous.

Acetaminophen, otherwise known as Tylenol or Anacin-3, is an ingredient in Percocet and Vicodin. You?ll also find it in many cold and flu medications. When it breaks down, researchers found, acetaminophen produces a toxic byproduct. But that?s not all! They also discovered that caffeine triples the amount of this toxin. This is the same toxin that causes liver problems when you mix the painkiller with alcohol. Other substances, including Phenobarbital and St John?s wort, boost the levels of this same byproduct.

And if you suffer from migraines or menstrual pain, watch out! Some drug manufacturers deliberately combine acetaminophen with caffeine to treat these ailments. For instance, Excedrin is one that?s loaded with caffeine. If you?re taking any of these drugs, lower your caffeine consumption to a minimum. Don?t drink more than one or two servings a day - especially if you?re also drinking alcohol.

Bottom line: Take acetaminophen only when necessary. And take as little as possible. If you can?t avoid this painkiller, try not to drink caffeine or alcohol. While studies have shown liver damage with high amounts of either caffeine or alcohol, some people are more sensitive than others to toxins.

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What if you simply can?t avoid caffeine or alcohol while taking acetaminophen? There?s a simple way to remove the toxic metabolites. All you have to do is take an effective oral chelation formula, such as PectaSol Chelation Complex (800-728-2288).

Your voice of reason in Women's Health,


"Cooperative Binding of Acetaminophen and Caffeine within the P450 3A4 Active Site," American Chemical Society, September 28, 2007.

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