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Study Reveals Something You Probably Didn't Know About Drugs Like Tylenol


"Might have broader consequences than previously thought."

Tylenol Extra Strength is sold over-the-counter at a drugstore June 30, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. Tylenol contains acetaminophen, an active ingredient found in many pain killers and cold medicines. Today the Food and Drug Administration's advisory panel recommended that the agency reduce the maximum recommended dosage because of concerns over the potential of liver damage. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

One of the most popular over-the-counter pain relievers on the market might do more than just reduce physical pain. A new study suggests that it can dull your emotions as well.

Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in the brand name drug Tylenol, was already known to ease psychological pain, but Ohio State University researchers built upon that knowledge, showing how it can reduce positive feelings in addition to negative ones.

"This means that using Tylenol or similar products might have broader consequences than previously thought," lead author Geoffrey Durso, a doctoral student, said in a statement. "Rather than just being a pain reliever, acetaminophen can be seen as an all-purpose emotion reliever."

Drugs with acetaminophen, like Tylenol, were found in a new study to not only dull physical pain but to reduce positive emotions as well. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Fellow researcher and assistant professor of psychology Baldwin Way said they also found that people didn't seem to be "aware of how their emotions may be impacted when they take acetaminophen."

Durso, Way and graduate student Andrew Luttrell conducted an experiment with college students who either took the drug or a placebo and then viewed and rated the positive/negative emotions in photographs. The researchers observed that the study participants who had taken the drug were less extreme in their photograph rating compared to those given the placebo pill. The experimental group also didn't rate their own emotion upon viewing the photographs as particularly high or low.

In a second study, the researchers had participants view the same photographs and rate their own emotion and that of the images. In addition, they had them report how much of the color blue they saw.

The study authors saw similar results compared to the first experiment when it came to the emotional aspect. But both the experimental and control group reported similar judgements in how they saw the color blue.

This, a news release about the findings stated, indicates that the drug "affects our emotional evaluations and not our magnitude judgments in general."

Taking it a step further, the researchers speculated that these results show how "some people are more sensitive to big life events of all kinds, rather than just vulnerable to bad events," Durso said.

The researchers said they do not know if other pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin would have similar emotional effects.

(H/T: Daily Mail)

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