Every now and then, the FDA manages to get one right. I just wonder why it has to take them so long.
Common over-the-counter painkillers have needed more prominent warning labels for years. They're among our most overused drugs, yet most people have no idea how dangerous they can be.
The FDA is finally taking steps to correct that, ordering bigger, bolder warnings on those packages.
Better late than never.
The new labels will warn of the potential for liver damage from too much acetaminophen, the active ingredient in drugs like Tylenol.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, will have labels warning of the risk for serious stomach bleeding. NSAIDs include the common painkillers Advil, Motrin, and Bayer aspirin.
These are not newly discovered dangers. Doctors have known about these potential side effects for years – but the FDA thinks many consumers have either forgotten, or never knew in the first place.
And they're right.
Recent consumer polls have found that very few people are aware of the dangers of these drugs, and that most people take more painkillers and at more frequent intervals than the label instructs.
Another problem is that many people take more than one drug containing acetaminophen, or multiple NSAIDs, without even realizing it, because those key ingredients can be in many different kinds of meds.
Painkillers have become too common a part of too many lives. Folks tend to forget that they're not just little pills for headaches, but powerful drugs with a potential for side effects, some of which we still don't know about.
For example, you may know that the most common prostate cancer test sometimes unreliable. But new research shows that painkillers might be one of the reasons.
Research carried out by the Vanderbilt University in Nashville found that NSAIDs like aspirin may mask the protein used as a marker in the PSA test, leading to false negative results.
Remember, many of the folks getting those PSA tests are also being told they should take a painkiller every day for various reasons.
So if you're taking painkillers every day, it's time to stop and find out why. No one should be using these drugs that frequently, for most reasons.
If you're taking them for arthritis, for example, you should know there's a real drug-free alternative. I discussed it at length in the May issue of Health Revelations. You can read my three-step plan to reverse arthritis by subscribing now to get complete access to the archives.
For other issues, see your doctor. Frequent aches and pains are not normal, and could be an indicator of anything from a nutritional deficiency to an injury. In either case, you need to take care of the source of the problem – not the symptoms.
If you hadn't considered that before, maybe these new warnings will help you see the light – before it's too late.