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Acetaminophen vs Cancer: What's the Link?

Posted May 19 2011 8:30am
Sex sells.  So does sensationalism .  I'm sure many of you have already read about a new study just released that concluded that acetaminophen use is linked to hematologic cancers.  But so what?  It's an epidemiologic study that is useful in developing hypotheses.  It doesn't prove cause & effect.  It doesn't matter that the authors followed 64,839 patients 50-76 years old for 6-8 years.  It doesn't matter that no link was found between hematologic cancers and non-steroid anti-inflammatory use, aspirin included.

This type of journalism only serves to frighten & alarm the public while discrediting the medical profession when the next study presumably demonstrates no causal relationship such that we'll be accused once more of flip flopping & vacillating.

Will I continue to use acetaminophen when indicated?  You bet!  Will I worry about its well known & well documented liver toxicity when used in excess?  Absolutely.  As with all meds, remember my Goldilocks theory.  Use the right amount for the right reason; avoid using either an inadequate amount or an excessive amount, especially for the wrong reason(s).  Let's be sure to get more information before we pull this medication off the shelf!


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