New research suggests paracetamol may reduce risk of hardening of the arteries

November 09, 1999

Houston - New research from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston suggests the pain reliever paracetamol may help protect against atherosclerosis, the life-threatening condition commonly referred to as "hardening of the arteries."

The findings, presented at today's session of the American Heart Association in Atlanta, suggest that paracetamol may exert an anti-atherosclerotic effect when administered to animals in doses therapeutically relevant to man, according to lead investigator Dr Addison A. Taylor, Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and Chief, Division of Hypertension and Clinical Pharmacology at Baylor.

"Last year, we reported findings in healthy human volunteers indicating paracetamol may have a potential antioxidant effect," explained Taylor. "We documented an association between the use of paracetamol at recommended doses and a significant inhibition of the oxidation of certain low-density lipoprotein (LDL) components, which carry the form of cholesterol commonly described as 'bad cholesterol'."

Encouraged by their findings, Taylor and his colleagues proceeded to examine other cardiovascular indices that may be beneficially affected by paracetamol. The Baylor research team induced above-normal levels of cholesterol in rabbits, half of which received doses of paracetamol comparable to the recommended doses for humans.

"At the end of the 12-week study, we examined the rabbits for evidence of fatty streaking in the aorta, an early manifestation of atherosclerosis. The rabbits that received paracetamol had 50 percent less fatty streaking compared with controls," said Taylor.

"Although further research is necessary to draw any definitive conclusions, our findings, together with those reported by other investigators, are helping to build a body of evidence suggesting that paracetamol may help protect against cardiovascular disease," noted Taylor.

Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is a major contributor to coronary heart disease and stroke. Coronary heart disease is the country's number one killer of both men and women, while stroke claims an estimated 160,000 U.S. lives each year.

MediTech Media Ltd.

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