Side effects include the urge to go bungee jumping?
We know that what we eat, drink and ingest can affect us, but this one is really something: a study out of Ohio State University found that people who take one of the most common over-the-counter painkillers are apparently more willing to take risks.
The study had 1,000 test subjects take either a 1000 mg dose of acetaminophen or a placebo.
Then the subjects played a short video game, where they could inflate a balloon on the screen for rewards.
The longer they pushed a button to put air in the balloon, the more of the virtual money they won, but the more likely they would pop the balloon and lose out.
The people on acetaminophen were more likely to keep on going; they had bigger virtual balloons and more virtual balloon pops than the people on the placebo.
And when asked to rate the riskiness of certain behaviors, like going skydiving or walking through an unsafe neighborhood at night, the people on the painkiller were less concerned about the risks than the control group.
The researchers concluded that, for whatever reason, acetaminophen seems to make people less risk-averse, more tolerant of risky behavior.
Some studies show one out of every four Americans taking this painkiller each week, so if it’s affecting our understanding of risk, especially these days, when we’re trying to figure out what is and isn’t safe to do, it would be good to know about it.
Think of the effects it might be having on the balloon industry alone!
And as we wrap up the week, a story of being accidentally risky: Grant Hatcher of Halifax was on a motorcycle trip when he decided to camp for the night near the shore.
Maybe a little too close to shore: as time went on he was more or less sleeping in the Atlantic Ocean – the lesson, he says? “Respect the tides.”
A pain reliever that alters perceptions of risk (Ohio State University)
Pain relievers photo by mzuckerm via Flickr/Creative Commons