Are Over-The-Counter Drugs a Dying Breed?
Natural remedies for pain are looked down upon by members of the American Medical Association. They are much more likely to recommend using a prescription drug or an over the counter drug such as Tylenol. Why?
Are they swayed by the millions of dollars brands like Tylenol spend on television advertising to prove their pain reliever is the best? Or is it simply the support drug companies offer when they sponsor AMA continuing education seminars, send members on trips and provide their offices with goods that they would prefer not to pay for? The answer is unclear, but one startling fact is clear: Tylenol is not safe. In fact, it can even kill you.
Tylenol is currently shown to damage 10% of the people who use it on a long term basis by decreasing kidney function over time. Tylenol (acetaminophen) and aspirin are killing 40,000 people each year. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Bayer aspirin and Tylenol are called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and have been shown to cause severe liver damage when consumed with alcohol, and can lead to liver cancer and/or liver failure.
Despite these risks, Bayer created an ad campaign recommending an aspirin a day to help prevent heart attacks or stroke. Though this may be true, there is evidence that it may also increase a person's risk of dangerous gastric bleeding as much as it decreases their risk of heart attack and stroke, especially in people who are healthy.
Based on this evidence, it seems there is no reason to justify recommending an aspirin regimen for healthy individuals above a moderate level of risk for coronary heart disease. It has also been found through research that aspirin does not prevent cardiovascular issues and mortality in people with diabetes. The benefits of an aspirin regimen may outweigh the risk for people who have already had a heart attack, so aspirin isn't all bad, but it is not as "versatile" as Bayer might lead you to believe.
The dangers of aspirin don't stop there. "Buffered" aspirin means the pills are coated with a chemical that neutralizes stomach acid and is supposed to help prevent the risk of gastrointestinal (GI) problems. It was tested in people who suffer from GI bleeding, and those who took 325 mg of buffered aspirin were seven times more likely to suffer from other GI problems.
When NSAIDs were combined with SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors - routinely prescribed for depression) the risk of gastric hemorrhage was 6.3 times more likely than for people who took neither. People in this study who took only NSAIDs (without SSRIs) were 3.2 times more likely to have gastric hemorrhages.
Aspirin has been linked to GI harm such as bleeding of the gastrointestinal tract and ulcers of the GI in numbers ranging from 20,000 American deaths per year to 100,000 hospitalizations due to GI injury. A large study of almost 90,000 women found that women who took more than two aspirin per week had a 58% increased risk of pancreatic cancer. When they took more than 14 per week, the risk became 86% higher.
Advil (ibuprofen) may not be causing the serious harm that aspirin and acetaminophen are, but this over the counter drug is by no means harmless. One study found that taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen regularly may double a woman's risk of developing high blood pressure.
It seems that serious risks are associated with these mass produced and consumed "pain relievers, an especially sobering fact when so many natural methods can be safer to try first. Research how changing your diet, sleep patterns and exercise can help to relieve pain before you turn to over the counter medications that may cause you to feel worse than the problem you are treating.