The Tylenol Scare

Too many Americans gobble acetaminophen tablets like so many M&Ms. What are the risks?

For many of us suffering occasional aches and pains, reaching for the Tylenol has become almost a reflex. The best-selling over-the-counter pain reliever and its generic copycats are staples in American medicine cabinets. The active ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen, a versatile molecule that can cool a fever, soothe a teething baby and dull the sharp joint pains of osteoarthritis.

Now, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking some tough questions about acetaminophen. It's a drug that can do serious damage to the liver when used outside prescribed guidelines, and it's not at all clear that the warnings...

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