Acetaminophen, ibuprofen may be linked to high blood pressure

Monday, October 28, 2002

CHICAGO -- The popular pain relievers ibuprofen and acetaminophen, contained in scores of over-the-counter remedies, may increase the risk of high blood pressure, a study in women suggests.

Skeptics say the link is flimsy and needs confirmation in better-designed studies, and even the Harvard researchers who conducted the study do not recommend that people stop taking the medications. But the authors add that their findings are plausible given what's known about how the drugs affect the body.

The study, in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine, involved 80,020 women aged 31 to 50 who participated in a nurses' health study and had not been diagnosed with high blood pressure at the outset. They were asked in 1995 about their use of painkillers; information about high blood pressure was obtained from a survey two years later.

During those two years, 1,650 participants developed high blood pressure. Women who reported taking acetaminophen 22 days a month or more were twice as likely to develop hypertension.

Acetaminophen is contained in Tylenol and ibuprofen is in Motrin, two popular over-the-counter painkillers.

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