- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Texas researchers said Wednesday they had found some
evidence that acetaminophen -- a widely used pain reliever -- might help
protect against heart disease. They said it might act as an antioxidant,
stopping cholesterol from sticking to the walls or arteries and clogging
them up. Dr. Addison Taylor and colleagues at the Baylor College of Medicine
said their tests in 12 volunteers were just preliminary, but worth investigating
further. The tests showed that acetaminophen -- used widely in cold, allergy
and headache medications such as Tylenol, Datril and Pamprin -- might act
to stop the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein, also known as LDL or
``bad'' cholesterol. The findings were presented on Wednesday at a meeting
of the Congress of Pharmacology in Munich, Germany, and released in a statement
here. ``The oxidation of cholesterol-containing, low-density lipoproteins
is one of the main processes involved in the formation of arterial plaque,
which accumulates in the walls of blood vessels and contributes to hardening
of the arteries, or atherosclerotic disease,'' he said in a statement.
``While further study is required to make any definitive association between
acetaminophen and a protective effect in patients at risk of cardiovascular
disease, what we observed is promising and may suggest a potential clinical
role for acetaminophen as an antioxidant,'' he added. He said similar findings
had been made in animals. ``Although our research was the first to examine
the effects of acetaminophen on low-density lipoproteins in humans, other
investigators have reported similar findings in laboratory settings,''
he said. In March, researchers said acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol,
would interfere with blood-thinners given to heart patients. They said
patients being treated with the blood-thinning drug Coumadin should avoid
taking large doses of paracetamol because of the risk of internal hemorrhaging.
Acetaminophen's big rival aspirin has known effects as a blood thinner.
Acetaminophen was first developed as an alternative to aspirin because
of those effects, which can cause sometimes deadly stomach bleeding.