Researchers at The Ohio State University conducted several experiments to see how popular painkillers affect decision-making. While we often warn about how acetaminophen can take a dangerous toll on the liver, this latest side effect can give thrill-seekers (or people at risk) a reason to stop.
In an experiment, researchers took 1,000 mg of acetaminophen in a suggested dose for a headache to 189 college students (109 men, 79 women). Some students were inadvertently given a placebo instead of medication. Once the drug was kicked off, participants were provided with a list of various events and then each thought about how risky they were.
Results showed that students who took acetaminophen saw things like “bungee bridge jumping off a high bridge”, or skydiving classes with less risky things than placebo. Similarly, “speaking your mind about an unpopular issue at a meeting in your work”, switching careers in your mid-30s, and even walking home alone at night in a high-crime area are also those in the acetaminophen group. Was considered less risky.
‘They just don’t feel scared’
“Acetaminophen causes people to feel less negative emotions when they consider risky activities – they just don’t feel scared,” says Baldwin Way, associate professor of psychology in a university release. “With approximately 25 percent of the population in the US taking acetaminophen each week, it reduces risk perceptions and risk taking can have a significant impact on society.”
Another experiment uses a standard risk-taking assessment to see if the results are true under different circumstances. Once again, 142 students (76 men, 64 women) took either Tylenol or a placebo dose. Later, participants complete a computer game in which they receive a cash prize for blowing the balloon without popping. Students press a button to “inflate” the virtual balloon and receive money as the balloon grows larger. They can choose to fly or stop the balloon and collect the reward.
Students given acetaminophen were more likely to play and take less cash than to suppress their balloon and keep it safe.
He says, “If you are at risk, you can pump some time and then decide to cash out because you don’t want the balloon to burst and your money runs out.” “But for those who are on acetaminophen as the balloon gets bigger, we believe they have less anxiety and less negative emotion about how big the balloon is getting and are likely to burst.”
A third trial involving 215 undergrads (91 males, 122 females) was similar to the balloon experiment. Students also completed standard tests known as the “Columbia Card Task” and the “Iowa Gambling Task”. The results once again suggest that the acetaminophen group is more prone to taking more risks.
Is acetaminophen safe during coronovirus outbreaks?
The way warnings may be more serious than one might realize, especially in today’s climate. This is because the CDC suggests taking acetaminophen for people experiencing coronovirus symptoms.
He says, “Perhaps someone with mild COVID-19 symptoms may not think that taking acetaminophen is as risky as leaving their home and meeting people.”
The authors also note that the drug is found in over 600 drugs. It may be wise to ask your doctor to see if you have acetaminophen from taking any prescription.
The study is published online in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.
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