Tylenol and Aspirin Increases Risk of Kidney Failure

An article in the December 19, 2001 online issue of WebMD reporting on an article from the December 20, 2001 New England Journal of Medicine reports that two Risk of Kidney Failureof the most common over the counter drugs can have serious effects. The study was conducted in Sweden by interviewing 1924 subjects half of who had been recently diagnosed with renal (kidney) failure. In the half that had the renal failure the usage of Aspirin and Tylenol was 37 percent and 25 percent, respectively. In the control group, the usage of Aspirin and Tylenol was considerably lower with the rates only being 19 percent and 12 percent, respectively. These results clearly showed a higher rate of long-term usage of these drugs in the patients who eventually suffered renal failure.

Michael Fored, MD, author of the study and a kidney specialist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden stated, “What we have seen is that there is an association between acetaminophen [the generic name for Tylenol] and aspirin and chronic [kidney] failure. Our results are consistent with the existence of exacerbating effects of acetaminophen and aspirin on chronic renal failure.”

The WebMD story stated that taking either of the two drugs increased risk of kidney failure for people with kidney disease. The article further pointed out that taking just one of the drugs increased this risk 2.5-fold while taking more of each drug over the course of a lifetime, greatly increased the risk. AsprinCumulative (lifetime) risk increased faster with Tylenol than with aspirin. A lifetime dose of at least 500 grams increased risk of kidney failure 3.3-fold. “This is not that high a dose,” Fored says. “For the usual 500 mg pill that is 1,000 tablets. That is three tablets a day for a year. It is not that high a dose for a person with chronic pain.”

The very next article published in the same December 20, 2001 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reports on a study that shows that taking ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) almost totally wipes out any positive heart effects that taking aspirin was hoping to cause.

In this report by Dr. Muredach Reilly, a University of Pennsylvania cardiologist who took part in the 30-patient study, he noted that when patients took a single dose of ibuprofen beforehand, aspirin lost 98 percent of its blood-thinning power. When aspirin was taken first, three daily doses of ibuprofen sapped aspirin of 90 percent of its benefit. He concluded, “It would not do you a lot of good to take one medication only to have another wipe out its effects.”