Study Links Tylenol Consumption with Risk Taking

The psychological side effects of acetaminophen, aka Tylenol, continue to mount, with research showing users are more likely to make risky decisions. When coupled with past research linking this supposedly safe pain reliever to blunted empathy and emotions, the widespread social effects on society could be immense.

Acetaminophen, commonly known by its brand name Tylenol, is one of the most commonly used medications worldwide — and research suggests it could be causing users to engage in more risky behaviors.[1] In the U.S. alone, acetaminophen can be found in more than 600 prescription and over-the-counter drugs and is taken by 23% of — or 52 million — Americans each week.[2]

Many don’t think twice about popping a Tylenol or two to relieve a headache, reduce a fever or ease minor aches and pains or cold and allergy symptoms, but research continues to reveal that this supposedly “safe” pain reliever has more risks than many people realize. Among them are surprising effects on psychological processes such as behavior and perception, including altering willingness to take risks.

While potentially increasing risky behaviors, acetaminophen has also been found to blunt both positive and negative emotions. In this way, Way and colleagues revealed in 2015 that over-the-counter acetaminophen provides relief from “pain and pleasures alike,” essentially dampening users’ ability to experience emotionally pleasurable sensations.[7]

Study Links Tylenol Consumption with Risk Taking