New research suggests paracetamol blocks enzyme involved in hardening of the arteries

May 21, 2000

New research from the University of Georgia, USA, supports earlier findings linking the popular pain reliever paracetamol (acetaminophen) with protection against atherosclerosis, the life-threatening condition commonly referred to as "hardening of the arteries."

The new findings were presented last night by Dr Phillip Greenspan, an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy at UGA, at the First Conference on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology co-sponsored by the American Heart Association and the North American Vascular Biology Organisation in Denver, Colorado, USA.

"Our laboratory findings indicate that paracetamol is a potent inhibitor of myeloperoxidase, one of the chief enzymes involved in coronary artery disease," said Dr Greenspan.

Dr Greenspan explained that the activity of the enzyme myeloperoxidase has been linked to an increase in the disease-causing properties of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), which carry the form of cholesterol commonly described as "bad cholesterol".

"We found that paracetamol blocks the activity of myeloperoxidase, thus inhibiting the transformation of LDLs into particles that contribute to hardening of the arteries," added Dr Greenspan.

Dr Greenspan's research supports the findings of earlier studies, both in animals and in humans, by Dr Addison A Taylor and his colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, USA, linking the use of paracetamol at recommended doses with a significant inhibition of the oxidation of LDL components.

"Our findings, together with those of Dr Taylor and other investigators, are extremely encouraging. Although further research is required, we are seeing mounting evidence to suggest that paracetamol may block a critical pathway in the development of coronary heart disease," said Dr Greenspan.

Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is a major contributor to coronary heart disease and stroke. Coronary heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women worldwide, accounting for an estimated 14% of deaths globally in 1998.*
* Reference: The World Health Report 1999 (World Health Organisation)

MediTech Media Ltd.

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