Millions of people worldwide will take paracetamol (tylenol) today, unaware that a recent study has proven that it is responsible for the worldwide obesity epidemic.
The controversial paper (awaiting publication) by Paul Roctor and Gareth Amble of Lancashire University of Veterinary Science have spent the past three years confirming that the link is real.
"We were in the Student Union," said Amble, "looking at the fat kids coming into the university, and wondered why they were fat. Then we realised. It was paracetamol, and all we had to do was prove it."
First of all, they charted the rise of childhood paracetamol suspensions given to children as young as six months old, and marked it against the rise of obesity in nations as diverse as America and Nigeria; with this in place, they secured funding for feeding paracetamol to mice.
"The clincher was that you very rarely see a fat Chinese person, and they can't metabolise paracetamol," said Roctor.
Mice fed solely on a diet of paracetamol tended to have very short life expectancies due to the lack of nutrients in the average tablet, however, those that were allowed food as well tended to eat more than those mice who were given a placebo.
Amble and Roctor believe that paracetamol (tylenol) interferes with the body's ability to recognise when it is full, making those who take regular doses of the drug for such things as a hangover, joint pain, stomach cramps and cries for help unaware that they have eaten enough.
"It's bad news for emos," said Amble. "I guess they'll switch to bleach now."