Doctor Issues Warning To People Taking This Common Painkiller

It's especially important for regular users.
Mykhailo Polenok / 500px via Getty Images

Paracetamol, the over-the-counter analgesic many of us reach for in our hours of pain, may be dangerous if taken regularly, Doctor Semiya Aziz warned on ITV’s This Morning.

On the February 23rd episode of the show, the doctor explained that “yes, you can have paracetamol for short periods, but if you are on it long-term, go and speak to your healthcare professional and discuss it with them.”

As with many medicines (and even foods), the dose makes the poison.

Dr. Aziz says that while “currently, we know paracetamol in the lowest effective dose over a short period of time ― for headaches, for fevers ― is absolutely fine,” she suggests that taking a lot of paracetamol regularly may cause further health issues.

What’s the problem?

“A recent study has come out with the fact that people who are taking paracetamol on a long-term basis regularly can have an increase in their blood pressure,” Dr. Aziz shared.

She may have been referring to a 2022 University of Edinburgh study, which found “a newly discovered risk [of hypertension] for people who take [paracetomol] regularly over the longer term, usually for chronic pain.”

However, the study was not specified in the ITV clip.

“We know that [an increased risk of hypertension] has been the case for people who have been on anti-inflammatories, for example, ibuprofen, aspirin, but paracetamol can cause an increase in blood pressure for those who are on it for longer periods of time,” Dr. Aziz said.

“Because high blood pressure can result in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes,” she added.

The University of Edinburgh study we mentioned earlier found that consistent use of paracetamol in the trial “might be expected to increase the risk of heart disease or stroke by around 20[%].”

“This is not about short-term use of paracetamol for headaches or fever, which is, of course, fine – but it does indicate a newly discovered risk for people who take it regularly over the longer term, usually for chronic pain,” said Dr. Iain MacIntyre, lead investigator and consultant in Clinical Pharmacology and Nephrology at NHS Lothian.