Acetaminophen reduces your ability to feel other peoples’ pain

Acetaminophen reduces your ability to feel other peoples’ pain

Acetaminophen lowers your ability to feel other peoples’ pain

Acetaminophen lowers your ability to feel other peoples’ pain, or to empathize with other people, according to new research from Ohio State University.

The Ohio State researchers found that when study participants took acetaminophen and found out about the sufferings of others experienced less empathy compared to those who took no painkillers.

These findings suggest other people’s pain doesn’t seem as big of a deal to you when you’ve taken acetaminophen,” said Dominik Mischkowski, co-author of the study and a former Ph.D. student at Ohio State.

Acetaminophen can reduce empathy as well as serve as a painkiller.”

Acetaminophen (the main ingredient in Tylenol), is the most common drug in the U.S. According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), it is found in over 600 different medications.

The study abstract explained the following about the study details and results:

In two double-blind placebo-controlled experiments, participants rated perceived pain, personal distress, and empathic concern in response to reading physical or social pain scenarios, witnessing ostracism in the lab, or visualizing another study participant receiving painful noise blasts. As hypothesized, acetaminophen reduced empathy in response to others’ pain. Acetaminophen also reduced the unpleasantness of noise blasts delivered to the participant, which mediated acetaminophen’s effects on empathy. Together, these findings suggest that the physical painkiller acetaminophen reduces empathy for pain and provide a new perspective on the neurochemical bases of empathy. Because empathy regulates prosocial and antisocial behavior, these drug-induced reductions in empathy raise concerns about the broader social side effects of acetaminophen, which is taken by almost a quarter of US adults each week.

We don’t know why acetaminophen is having these effects, but it is concerning,” said Baldwin Way, the senior author of the study. “Empathy is important. If you are having an argument with your spouse and you just took acetaminophen, this research suggests you might be less understanding of what you did to hurt your spouse’s feelings.”

According to a report published in the journal Hepatology, Acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause for calls to Poison Control Centers (>100,000/year) and accounts for more than 56,000 emergency room visits, 2,600 hospitalizations, and an estimated 458 deaths due to acute liver failure each year.

In 2014, the FDA changed prescription regulations for all acetaminophen products, reducing the allowed dosage.

The study showing that acetaminophen lowers your ability to feel other peoples’ pain was published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

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REFERENCES:
1. “Acetaminophen and the U.S. Acute Liver Failure Study Group: Lowering the Risks of Hepatic Failure.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Hepatology, July 2004. Web. 13 May 2016.
2. “All Manufacturers of Prescription Combination Drug Products with More than 325 Mg of Acetaminophen Have Discontinued Marketing.” FDA.gov. U.S Food and Drug Administration, 26 Mar. 2014. Web. 13 May 2016.
3. “When You Take Acetaminophen, You Don’t Feel Others’ Pain as Much.” The Ohio State Unversity. N.p., 10 May 2016. Web. 14 May 2016.
4. “From Painkiller to Empathy Killer: Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) Reduces Empathy for Pain.” Oxford Journals. Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, n.d. Web. 14 May 2016.

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