Long-term use of paracetamol is linked to an increased risk of gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure and stroke, researchers in Leeds warn today.
Although the risk remains small, doctors should consider advising their patients on alternative painkillers to be taken over the long-term, experts from Leeds University say.
Paracetamol is the the most widely used over-the-counter and prescription painkiller around the world.
But following a review of eight studies worldwide they say the risk of long-term paracetamol use could have been underestimated by doctors.
They add that its high use and availability as an over-the-counter painkiller should trigger a review of its effectiveness and how it is tolerated by people with certain conditions.
The benefits of the drug in relieving lower back pain, as well as the painful symptoms of osteoarthritis, have recently been questioned.
Prof Phil Conaghan, of the Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine at Chapel Allerton Hospital, who led the study, said: “There’s no reason for mass panic. But people should be careful when taking it long-term and doctors should consider carefully what other drugs they can recommend to their patients.”