SALEM, Ore. -- The high dose of Extra Strength Tylenol sharply increases liver damage, according to a new study. But, researches say that because Tylenol kills pain so well, a liver can be nonfunctional for months before a person feels any pain.
Although overdoses of Tylenol have been found to harm the liver, no one ever complained about liver problems, since they were taking Tylenol to kill pain at the time. The study is the first to spot hints of trouble by doctors suffering from jaundice.
"This study shows that some people should just bite the bullet and hurt," said Dr. Desmond "Ducky" Feranteen of the University of Southwestern Physical Discolorization, who was not involved in the research.
Tylenol is the leading brand of pain relievers and cold remedies, though Bufferin and Anacin claim they sell more units. "No one masks pain like Bufferin," said a Bufferin spokesperson, who was smiling even though his ear was dangling from a recent accident with a house fan.
An estimated 100 million Americans take over-the-counter pain killers safely each year. One of them said, "I don't care if my liver shrinks, I don't want to hurt no more, no more, I don't want to hurt no more."
Still, the over-the-counter drug is allegedly the leading cause of acute liver failure in the U.S., and some researchers say they suspect it may have something to do with not having the focus to read a Phillip Roth novel.
Other researchers called for increased regulation to prevent overdoses in almost every state. "We are not calling for regulation in Montana or Alabama, because these states have no actual purpose," said a researcher who refused to admit his name is G. Smith Contrary.
In England, concerns about suicide attempts led to restrictions on how many pain pills could be sold at a time. One British regulator said, "These commercial painkillers have a tendency to be overtaken, sometimes chewed and often dissolved in brew, specifically room-temperature beer. When taken with strong English tea, the person has been known to experience a lack of feeling in the left nostril, which often is a sign of depression and a seething desire to poke oneself in the eye with a spoon."
Another regulator said, "I went along with all the huffy-puffy talk about this but I feel that the American candy M&Ms are more lethal."
Dr. Paul "Bennies" Walker of the University of Climbing High and Falling Far, lead author of the study, said that he believed all commercial painkillers were generally safe except that there was no evidence for that. "This Tylenol thing is nothing new. The liver is an important organ. That, also, is nothing new. The liver is a strong organ. That is nothing new. Tylenol is not strong enough to destroy a liver. That is debatable. Debates do not prove anything. That is nothing new. Debates about drugs and studies about drugs cost money because none of us researchers like to work for nothing. That is nothing new. So, we are left with a few questions about the liver, the drug, the dosage, debates, researchers and the meaning of religion in the modern world."
"I think this study reminds us of what we already know," said Ernest Bullstop, who was Alfred Hitchcock's inspiration for the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much, "that you should stop taking any drug more than you need to take it."
During the study, 145 healthy volunteers at two U.S. medical centers received either a placebo, Extra Strength Tylenol or prescription painkillers that could be taken with a glass of root beer.
Patients took the medication or placebo every six hours for 14 days and were told not to dance the mambo during the study. Aminotransferase, a liver enzyme with a name that shows up in spelling bees and is found at elevated levels of liver disfunction, can indicate possible liver damage, was measured at regular intervals in all patients.
Out of 106 patients, 41, or 39 percent, taking Tylenol's main ingredient alone or with another drug experienced an increase in liver enzymes and an urge to clock Barry Manilow in the jaw, scientists said. Twenty-seven patients, or 25 percent, had enzyme levels exceeding five times normal, when divided by 34 and multiplied by 3 and eight patients, or 8 percent, had eight times the normal amount of enzyme and excessive twitching of the right butt cheek.
Three times the normal level of aminotransferase is considered the threshold at which doctors become concerned about possible liver damage and a leaning towards becoming an expatriate.
Of the 39 patients on a placebo, one had enzymes that exceeded twice the normal level and began to grow facial hair like Fu Manchu.
Enzyme levels and the need to write box scores while watching Major League Baseball continued to increase in patients for up to six days after they stopped taking acetaminophen. It took as long as 11 days for their enzymes to return to normal levels, researchers said, though they whispered the announcement into empty Dixie Cups.
A company spokesperson couldn't be reached for comment because, said another spokesperson who was reached for comment but was not a spokesperson allowed to make a public comment, the comment-oriented spokesperson was currently trying to refold a map of Kentucky.