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Coffee and painkiller warning

27th September 2007

Taking paracetamol at the same time as drinking lots of coffee could increase the risk of liver damage, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle believe that the harmful effect could also occur from medication that intentionally combines caffeine with paracetamol for the treatment of pain.

Although health experts advise people not to drink excess alcohol while taking paracetamol to protect their liver, the latest warning is the first to report a potentially harmful effect from drinking coffee after taking the painkiller.

Writing in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, the researchers argue that it could be beneficial for people to limit their caffeine intake when using paracetamol.

But they also warn that the study’s findings are preliminary and are yet to be confirmed in human tests ? the research so far has been conducted in bacteria and laboratory animals.

“People should be informed about this potentially harmful interaction,” said Dr Sid Nelson.

“The bottom line is that you don’t have to stop taking acetaminophen or stop taking caffeine products, but you do need to monitor your intake more carefully when taking them together, especially if you drink alcohol.”

The researchers are now studying how the potential toxic interaction occurs in the liver from the mix of caffeine and paracetamol and are considering human studies in the future.

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