U.S. News & World Report July 2, 2001
Limit Tylenol on an Empty Tummy
Mixing the pain reliever acetaminophen with alcohol can be hard on the liver; but so can taking it while fasting. Yet, surprisingly, many doctors don't tell you that.
A survey of physicians, published in this month's Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management, found that over 40 percent were unaware of the problem. "Fasting is probably a more common cause of acetaminophen toxicity than alcohol," says gastroenterologist Laurie DeLeve at the University of Southern California. Some 36 percent of acute liver failures are linked to acetaminophen (emphasis added). Sold as Tylenol and some aspirin-free products, the drug produces a byproduct that can poison the liver but is rendered harmless by a body chemical. Skipping meals, as people do when sick, depletes this protection. Doctors suggest taking no more than 4 grams daily. Tylenol maker McNeil Consumer Healthcare disputes the findings but echoes the advice on dosage.