Researchers found that increased use of the pain medication Acetaminophen, known as Paracetamol in Europe, was associated with a greater prevalence of asthma and COPD ( chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ), and related to decreased lung function if used daily.
British researchers studied data from 13,492 persons who were part of the Third National Health and Nutrition Survey ( NHAMES III ).
Participants in NHAMES III were asked whether they had taken Aspirin, Acetaminophen, and Ibuprofen during the previous month.
The subjects were divided into "never users;" "occasional users" ( 1 to 5 times in the past month ); "regular users" ( 6 to 29 times during the past month ); and "daily users" ( more than 29 times during the last month ).
Oxidative stress may increase the risk of asthma, contribute to asthma progression, and decrease lung function.
Previous research suggests that use of Acetaminophen, which is hypothesized to reduce antioxidant capacity in the lung, is associated with an increased risk of asthma.
The investigators found that the prevalence of asthma was 6.9 percent and that of COPD 11.8 percent in the NHAMES III data.
In addition, 2.8 percent had both respiratory diseases.
About 4 percent of the participants were daily users of Acetaminophen as compared with 8.2 percent for Aspirin and 2.5 percent for Ibuprofen.
Approximately 3 percent of the population reported use of all three medications in the last month, and 16 percent had two different types of pain medications.
Increased use of Acetaminophen had a positive, dose-dependent association with COPD and asthma, and an inverse association with lung function .
Neither the use of Aspirin nor the use of Ibuprofen was associated with the prevalence of either asthma or COPD.
This study provides further evidence that use of Acetaminophen is associated with an increased risk of asthma and COPD, and with decreased lung function.
Source: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2005