Why Are We Taking So Many Pain Relievers?

I saw an interesting story on ABC News tonight about the dangers of pain relievers. Almost everyone knows taking too much aspirin can cause stomach bleeding and ulcers, but did you know that taking too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can cause serious liver damage? We’re talking liver damage bad enough that you would need a transplant!

Once I started doing some research I found some alarming statistics.

Apparently there’s a serious problem with taking the correct dosages of pain relievers, and there can even be a problem when the correct dosage is taken. Acetaminophen sends 50,000 people to the hospital each year and 100 people die from it unintentionally according to the FDA. But it isn’t any better with what is known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs which are asprin, ibuprofen, naproxen and others. More than 200,000 are sent to the hospital and NSAIDs are linked to 16,000 deaths each year.

An then you find out how many people are taking pain relievers every day. Between NSAIDs and Acetaminophen more than 23,000,000, that’s twenty-three-million, people are taking a pain reliever every single day. That means every 13 days enough pain relievers are taken to give every man, woman, and child in the United States a dose.

I have to ask the obvious…


Could it be that we aren’t eating the right foods? Pain relievers just treat the symptoms, never the cause. From these stats it sounds like some people must be on a steady diet of pain relievers. Granted, there are physical causes of pain such as falling off your bike, but I bet the majority of the consumption of pain pills goes to headache sufferers.

It’s a no brainer that when your head hurts it means your body is trying to tell you something and it’s a good possibility that your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs. It hasn’t happened in a long time, but I know in the past when I didn’t eat right I occasionally ended up with a wicked headache.

When you combine the everyday stress of life with a bad diet, no wonder 23 million people reach for the medicine cabinet every day. Maybe we should try feeding our brains nutrient dense food instead of pain relievers.

Stats from: Seattle Post Intelligencer article.

Alan LeStourgeon

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