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The world’s most common pain reliever could prompt risk taking

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Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol, also increases a person’s ability to take greater risks, a new study reveals.

“Acetaminophen seems to make people feel less negative emotion when they consider risky activities – they just don’t feel as scared,” explains neuroscientist Baldwin Way of Ohio State University.

The researchers note that, while nearly 25% of the US population takes acetaminophen each week, the reduction in risk perceptions “could have important effects on society.”

In a series of experiments involving more than 500 college students, Way and his team measured how a dose of 1,000 mg of paracetamol – the maximum recommended dose for adults – assigned to participants influenced their behaviour compared to placebo administered to a control group.

In each of the experiments, participants had to inflate a balloon on a computer screen to earn imaginary money. They were instructed to win as much as possible by inflating the balloon as much as they could. However, they had to be careful that it didn’t explode. In this case, they lost all the money at once.

The results showed that students taking acetaminophen risked much more during exercise than those in the placebo group, who were more careful not to have the money. Overall, those taking the painkiller burst more balloons than the control group.

Despite the severity of these findings, acetaminophen remains one of the most widely used medications in the world and is the main medicine to relieve coronavirus symptoms.

Acetaminophen or widely known as Paracetamol is a medicine used to fight pain and fever. It is not a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory. Unlike ibuprofen and aspirin, it affects the nervous system.

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