Acetaminophen Reduces
Both Pleasure and Pain

A new study has found that acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Tylenol, most forms of Midol, and more than 600 other medicines, reduces not only pain, but pleasure, as well.

The authors of the study say that while acetaminophen has long been widely known to blunt psychological pain, their new research shows that it also blunts joy –
in other words, it narrows the range of feelings experienced.

“This means that using Tylenol or similar products might have broader consequences than previously thought,” said Geoffrey Durso, a doctoral student in social psychology at Ohio State University and the lead author of the study. “Rather than just being a pain reliever, acetaminophen can be seen as an
all-purpose emotion reliever.”

The researchers tested their thesis byshowing 82 college students 40 photographs –
some of highly pleasant images, such as children with kittens, and some of highly unpleasant images, such as children who weremalnourished. Half of the participants were given an “acute dose” of acetaminophen –
1,000 milligrams – and the other half were given a placebo with the same appearance. The subjects were then asked to rate the photos according to how unpleasant or pleasant they were. Those who took the acetaminophen rated all the photos less extremely than those who took the placebo.

“In other words, positive photos were not seen as positively under the influence of acetaminophen and negative photos were not seen as negatively,” the authors reported.

The authors said it was not known whether other pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, have the same effect, a question which they plan to research in the future.

Commuting May Be Bad
for Your Health

The average commute to work lasts
25 minutes, according to U.S. Census data, but many workers travel much further. In fact, employees in New York City spend an average of 48 minutes a day getting to
their jobs.

Most commuters find the trip to work a nuisance, but some researchers say that it could also be detrimental to one’s health. A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that the farther Texas residents commuted every day, the more likely they were to be overweight. Unsurprisingly, the farthest commuters were also less likely to get the recommended amount of daily physical activity. In light of these findings, experts advise those who have a long commute to make a special effort to be active during the day by taking walking breaks, getting up from their desk often, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and making exercise a priority during non-work hours.

A third of people who commute more than 90 minutes say they deal with ongoing neck and back pain, according to a recent Gallup poll. While back pain is one of the most common health complaints, only one in four people who commute 10 minutes or less reported pain in the same poll. Some attribute these findings to the extra time spent sitting slumped forward in the driver’s seat or on the train. Commuters could help avoid neck and back pain by making an effort to sit up straight with a lumbar support behind their lower back, and their head positioned evenly over
their shoulders.

Blood Thinners
Over prescribed

As many as one-quarter of people with atrial fibrillation who have a low risk of stroke are given blood-thinning drugs they likely don’t need, a new study contends.

Atrial fibrillation – a common form of irregular heartbeat – can cause blood clots, which can then travel to the brain and cause a stroke. To prevent the formation of blood clots, many people with atrial fibrillation are prescribed blood thinners. However, these drugs pose the risk of excessive bleeding, and so they generally are not recommended for atrial fibrillation
patients with a low risk for stroke, the study authors explained.

The study included information from nearly 11,000 atrial fibrillation patients across the United States, who were all younger than 60 and considered to have a low risk of stroke. The study found that despite their low risk, about 25 percent of them were prescribed blood thinners, contrary to current treatment guidelines.

“Practitioners who prescribe blood thinners need to be diligent about weighing the risks and benefits of these medications,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Jonathan Hsu from the University of California, in a university news release. He added, “In those patients with no risk factors for stroke, the risk of bleeding likely outweighs the benefit ofstroke reduction. The fact that blood thinners were prescribed to so many patients with no risk factors for stroke is a wake-up call that we need to do better for our patients.”

Dr. Hsu noted, “Our study suggests people are trying to do the right thing,but due to a lack of understanding of some of the critical nuances, go too far in that direction in low-risk patients.”