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Study: Acetaminophen May Disrupt Male Sex Hormones, Placing Unborn Babies at Risk

Young woman taking a pill

A new study published in the journal EBioMedicine might be bad news for people who regularly take acetaminophen. The researchers wanted to better understand the metabolism of common drugs, like Tylenol.

The study looked at 455 adults who were over the age of 18. According to Human Longevity, Inc., what they found was a "depletion of sulfated sex hormones associated with acetaminophen use in all the study populations." Specifically, the acetaminophen use resulted in the equivalent of "35 years of aging on sulfated hormone levels." These results mean that reproductive health, as well as placental health, could be negatively affected by Tylenol use. Another reason this finding is significant is because ingestion of acetaminophen during pregnancy could potentially affect the development of masculine and behavioral characteristics in the fetus. (Tylenol is an over-the-counter drug that has otherwise been deemed safe for pregnant women to take.)

"These sulfated sex hormones, also referred to as neurosteroids, have many effects in the brain," researchers said in a press release.

“These findings are significant for they showcase how the body is impacted by seemingly innocuous everyday medications like Tylenol,” researcher Amalio Telenti said.  “There are hundreds of other drugs that no one has done this research for. We delineate a general strategy that should be applied broadly in the study of medications in common use.”

While studies have previously looked at other effects of acetaminophen on the body, this is the first time this particular connection has been made. Furthermore, the researchers, in this case, have laid out a strategy for other scientists to follow when examining the effects of other common medications like Tylenol that no one has studied in this manner.