A new study from Ohio State University published on Tuesday stated that Acetaminophen is a drug that reduces the user’s physical pain as everyone knows, but also reduces one’s ability to feel other people’s pain.
Acetaminophen is found in medications as Tylenol, Tempra and Anacin just naming a few. It is a top-selling over-the-counter painkiller, which is available without prescription since the 1950s.
Researchers from the Ohio State University tested this by giving to 80 students Acetaminophen, where they lately noticed that they were less able to empathize with physical or social aches of other people.
The researchers measured the empathy levels of the students before and after taking the drug, reading to them several stories about other people’s’ suffering. One of them was a narrative story that involved a person enduring a knife cut that went down to the bone, and another story that described a person suffering due of the death of his father.
The students who took the acetaminophen rated the pain of the characters in the story with a lower score than those who took the placebo.
The first test should be enough, but the researchers ran a second test, this time with 114 college students. On this second experiment, the researchers tested the students’ response to unpleasant noise, making disturbing noises and getting exposed to blast noises at a high volume. Once again those who had taken the acetaminophen rated their experience of the sound to be less unpleasant than the students who took the placebo, and they predicted the sound blasts would be not so bad for other people, either.
Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and the assistant professor of psychology at the University of Ohio, warned on this study that taking acetaminophen constantly could have a negative reaction for interpersonal relationships and in lives.
Way said that empathy is important. If someone is having an argument with someone else and you just took acetaminophen, this research suggests you might be less understanding of what you did to hurt that person’s feelings.
According to the researchers, previous studies along this one are the proof that the same region of the brain is activated when a person experiences pain as when one imagines another person experiencing pain, which could make sense of these results. The researchers are planning to look out next other side effects like these on drugs like for ibuprofen, which is another popular painkiller that is the main ingredient in drugs like Motrin.