Combining the over-the-counter painkiller Tylenol with even light alcohol consumption can more than double a person’s risk of kidney disease, a new study has found.
The new study, presented this week at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in Boston, found that Tylenol, also known by the generic name acetaminophen, combined with a small to moderate amount of alcohol puts people at a 123 percent increased risk of developing kidney disease.
Chronic use of acetaminophen and chronic alcohol abuse have individually been associated with an increased risk of kidney and liver disease. However, until now, few studies have looked at the kidney disease risk with regular alcohol use combined with regular acetaminophen use.
The study involved data from more than 10,000 people who participated in the 2003-2004 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. As part of the survey, participants were asked about their alcohol consumption, use of acetaminophen and various health problems.
Researchers found that people who reported normal use of acetaminophen or light to moderate use of alcohol were at no greater risk for kidney problems. However, people who combined the two reported problems with their kidneys. Specifically, of the 2.6 percent who said they combined the two, 1.2 percent reported kidney dysfunction.
“Most people take this medication without any input from pharmacists or physicians, and that’s where the public-health concern is,” said lead researcher Harrison Ndetan, an associate professor for research and biostatistics at Parker University in Dallas. “People buy acetaminophen over the counter, and they also are casual alcohol users, and they don’t know that there is a harmful interaction.”