MITOXIC-Why Acetaminophen may not be good for any of us, especially mitochondrial disease patients


What is the one medication you have been told has been safe to take when pregnant or to give to young children, even month old infants?

Acetaminophen ( also known by the brand name Tylenol in the USA and paracetamol in Europe).

I, (along with many of my friends) once HAD no doubt that this medication was ok for anyone, even our children.
For me… that was until I was told my daughter was suspected to have a metabolic disorder called mitochondrial disease, in which acetaminophen is discouraged for use in mito patients, because, you guessed it, it is mitochondrial toxic!  Now my question was – is it toxic to everyone’s mitochondria or only those with mitochondrial disease?
No one could answer that for me…
So in the meantime we stopped using acetaminophen in our house.
Then in January, I listened to a conference call by Dr. Shaw of Great Plains Laboratory about the causes of AUTISM.  Was I shocked when the MAIN CAUSE that Dr.Shaw focused his talk on was : ACETAMINOPHEN… A little, Yes, but in the grand scheme of my research about mitochondrial disease and it’s links to autism and the many environmental and pharmaceutical drugs which are now linked to causing mitochondrial damage and disease… I am not really all that shocked.  I am rather intrigued and validated, though, that someone else believes that this toxicity and our children’s health was as big of an issue as I Believe  it IS!!!
Dr. Shaw is in the process of publishing his findings so in the meantime I will refer to this wonderful blog, Ventography’s cliff note version of the conference call and of the update:

Part 1  Acetaminophen and Autism

Part 2  Update from Dr. Shaw

Dr. Shaws talk is largely centered around this research by Dr. Schultz:  Acetaminophen use after MMR is associated with autistic disorder


The present study was performed to determine whether acetaminophen (paracetamol) use after the measles-mumps-rubella vaccination could be associated with autistic disorder. This case-control study used the results of an online parental survey conducted from 16 July 2005 to 30 January 2006, consisting of 83 children with autistic disorder and 80 control children. Acetaminophen use after measles-mumps-rubella vaccination was significantly associated with autistic disorder when considering children 5 years of age or less (OR 6.11, 95% CI 1.42—26.3), after limiting cases to children with regression in development (OR 3.97, 95% CI 1.11—14.3), and when considering only children who had post-vaccination sequelae (OR 8.23, 95% CI 1.56—43.3), adjusting for age, gender, mother’s ethnicity, and the presence of illness concurrent with measles-mumps-rubella vaccination. Ibuprofen use after measles-mumps-rubella vaccination was not associated with autistic disorder. This preliminary study found that acetaminophen use after measles-mumps-rubella vaccination was associated with autistic disorder.

And now I will add my 2 minute ” as non-technical and non-scientific as I can be” description of why ALL OF US should limit or discontinue our acetaminophen usage:

There is a chemical in your body called glutathione (we will call it the GOOD Guy with a capital {G}
{G} Is responsible for helping get toxins out of your body (through the liver especially in the case of  acetaminophen). Acetaminophen, when metabolized lowers the amount of  {G} and therefore also lowers your body’s ability to detoxify (it also increases the level of a BAD GUY {NAPQI}. It has been shown that children with autism and those with mitochondrial disease have lower levels of {G} to begin with.  Think about when you normally give acetaminophen to a child- when they have a fever, or pain (with vaccines, teething,etc)… Think about what comes along with fever and pain:  bacteria, viruses, ingredients in vaccines that the body must get rid of: basically TOXINS ( ie. anything foreign in the body that it must rid itself of) So if you have just given your child  Tylenol and at the same time they are fighting TOXINS (from any type of source- real bugs or man-made ones), your child’s main detoxification mechanism has just been reduced and therefore the ability for those TOXINS to do more harm has been increased, all while taking the acetaminophen has created more toxins by its metabolism {NAPQI} that must also be detoxified.

Why oh why does no one tell you this stuff?? Why oh why does it take moms and dads of autistic children to blog about this and for a few clinically trained scientist and doctors like Dr Shaw, Dr. James, Dr. Waring, those in the naturopathic world or this forward thinking psychiatrist to study it and publish it?

A very optimistic (perhaps naive) part of me wants to believe the powers that be are not telling us because they don’t know, and they just haven’t studied this. But the other side of me thinks they might know, and may have studied it since it has been on the market for many years, and  since acetaminophen is a $$ making product, that may be some motivation not to let the cat out of the bag to the consumers?? And then the third part of me realizes that this has been studied and you can find information on it in the scientific and medical literature..and that maybe we all need to take responsibility to do our own research and ASK Questions before we put anything in our (or our children’s) bodies.


If you need more scientific/research proof… Here you go:

Here is a web conference given by Dr. Jim Dykens, Director of Investigative Cellular Toxicity at Pfizer Drug Safety Research &  Development and author of the 2008 book “Drug Induced Mitochondrial Dysfunction”. Though he does not discuss acetaminophen specifically he talks about the rile of mitochondrial toxicity screening and how it HAS NOT AND IS NOT BEING DONE on ALL DRUGS.  MITOCHONDRIAL TOXICITY (or Liability) Screening is NOT MANDATED by the FDA, many drugs are found to have mitochondrial toxicity after they are approved and placed on the market, and too many people die or are injured by the drug (then it is studied further and found to have organ specific mitochondrial toxicity, in most cases).

Also here is a link to my post on vaccines with links to studies on Glutathione: {G}

A search on pubmed (acetaminophen mitochondrial) yielded 277 results, here are a few recent articles (focused on hepatotoxicity- liver toxicity):

The mechanism underlying acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity in humans and mice involves mitochondrial damage and nuclear DNA fragmentation.

Oxidant stress, mitochondria, and cell death mechanisms in drug-induced liver injury: lessons learned from acetaminophen hepatotoxicity.

Mechanisms of drug-induced liver injury: from bedside to bench.

Acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity.

As soon as Dr. Shaws paper is published I will post it here.

Here are a few more references, for your reading pleasure:

Acetaminophen, NAPQI and glutathione

Side Effects of Tylenol

Don’t Fear the Fever, Fear the fever reducer

And finally…could this be why last summer the ADULT dose of Tylenol was lowered?

A Question?

Do you use Acetaminophen in your house?? Has any mainstream doctor advised you of the side effects of Acetaminophen?

I  was relieved that a trip to the ER for my daughter this past year, yielded a warning from the ER resident, saying that for fever control in mito kids (or suspected mito kids), Tylenol should be avoided due to its liver toxicity risks.  Now on to educating MORE doctors and pediatricans that this is a real risk for many kiddos (and adults). With the autism rates being recently announced at 1 in 88 by the CDC, and the number of children being diagnosed with mitochondrial disease climbing each day, the urgency and time to determine how much acetaminophen is contributing to this epidemic… is NOW!

EDITORS NOTE- 6/6/12 I came across this article that has a genetic link for those who may be more suceptible to liver toxicity and acetaminophen. The gene is CD44 and here is the abstract.


About Empowered Advocacy Pediatric Patient Advocate
This entry was posted in Allergies, Asthma, Autism, Medical, Mitochondrial Disease, Mitoxic, Toxins, transfer and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to MITOXIC-Why Acetaminophen may not be good for any of us, especially mitochondrial disease patients

  1. Diane says:

    Terrific! If I hadn’t already thrown out all the tylenol, your article would have sent me running to throw away the stuff.

  2. Jenna says:

    We don’t use tylenol in our house, it never worked for Matthew anyways.

  3. lysana says:

    I’m sorry, but your citing vaccines immediately tells me you’re touting junk science. Please quit lying about the causes of autism, especially when it’s clear there is a genetic component and experts can diagnose it long before the age the MMR vaccine is given. Furthermore, the first person to claim vaccines cause autism was motivated by making money by becoming part of “Big Pharma.” Nobody has proved his lies since. You are not doing anyone any favors.

    • Baby(food)Steps says:

      If you read the entire article you will see I am not citing vaccines as the cause but rather the acetaminophen given before and after vaccines as a possible trigger in those who may already be genetically predisposed (as is the case in many with mitochondrial disease and autism) to have lower levels of glutithione than others in our population. Thank you for your comments, but I do hope you will read the entire article as well as the linked information to published scientific research.

      • =^..^= says:

        You can tell she saw the word vaccines and immediately stopped reading. Love these open-minded people who claim to have done their research. I throw the BS flag on it. I was once a soldier in that camp. Then I really DID read the science.

    • Diane says:

      Genetics have only been found to be responsible in a very small population of patients with Autism
      Recently, there was some information indicating Maternal Obesity is contributing.

      I think the only thing this author did in sharing this information is point out that it is possible that Tylenol could be a contributing factor as well. There have have been multiple studies done on Tylenol that PROVE it can metabolically reduce certain levels in our bodies. Current research in the field of Mitochondrial Medicine has found connections both to problems metabolizing Tylenol and the connection between Autism and Mitochondrial dysfunction(which has been proven to be triggered by vaccines -according to the CDC).

      Odds are, I won’t get into a car accident today, so why wear a seatbelt? Because there is enough evidence that proves wearing a seatbelt mitigates the amount of harm I would suffer in a car accident.

      If removing Tylenol, reduces the risk of Autism or makes taking a vaccine potentially safer- it something that we need to be aware of as consumers.

      A very easy and simple way for a parent to potentially reduce the odds of their child developing Autism.

  4. Mariya says:

    I’m sold….but what DO you do for a high fever then, especially in young (less than 6 months old) children? My older son had a febrile seizure last spring so I’m slighly paranoid about fevers too.

    • Baby(food)Steps says:

      In Dr. Shaw’s webinar it was highly encouraged that you use tepid baths and cool rags first to try to lower temp. My daughter had a fever a few days ago and in just 15 minutes of doing this, her fever dropped 1 degree…so I was SOLD that the simple things (that unfortunately we are not advised to try first) may actually work! thanks for your comments!

      • Laura says:

        It is important to remember that a fever is the body’s way of fighting the offending germ. Many germs cannot live outside a certain temperature range. I have discovered our family heals much faster if we let the fever run it’s course ( as long as it does not reach dangerous levels). Yes, you feel miserable for a day or so, but that feeling is supposed to keep you in bed resting. If you reduce the fever artificially and feel better ( for a while), you end up being up and moving around more using energy your body needs to fight the infection. We have been conditioned to think that fever is bad, when it is actually a good thing most of the time.

    • =^..^= says:

      My son has febrile seizures too. At least he did. He hasn’t had one in over a year, after 2 yrs of them. We use motrin (not my favorite), tepid baths, and cloths on the forehead, and b6 and magnesium. The B6 and mag are used daily, not for acute use but maybe they could work acutely.

    • =^..^= says:

      Oh shoot, I forgot to mention we used belladonna on him as well, the homeopathic. I know some people do not believe in homeopathy, and that is their prerogative, but I figure for 5$, it is worth a shot.

      • Baby(food)Steps says:

        thanks for your comments! it is amazing what you find when you actually go looking for the truth!

  5. Lainie says:

    Thank you! I had no idea what acetaminophen did…I just knew it wasn’t good. You’ve opened my eyes.

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  7. We have 3 grand kids and many nieces & nephews. Thanks for the info. I’ve been saying forever the rise in autism HAS to be caused from something simple. The listings of “possible side effects” on all TV/print commercials for meds should make us all take pause and research everything before taking them.

    • Baby(food)Steps says:

      Thank you Charlie for your comments…. I almost seems too simple. Here is an amazing graph on page 367 that shows the sharp rise in autism in california right after the Reyes scare when Aspirin was discontinued and Acetaminophen was recommended for children, note also the “dips” when the tylenol/cyanide scares happened

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  15. Gabrielle says:

    Hi guys… my son has a mito condition an a few years back one of his doctors advised us not to use paracetamol we were told it doesn’t break down in his liver as well as it would in someone with out this condition…. we steered clear of it… a few years passed an when we asked a ‘specialist’ in my sons field why exactly it couldn’t be used…. my son is studying an honers degree in G&CB… so he was asking… we were then told… its quite alright to use this med… ???? yup… until this article we were so confused… this has just re enforced our understanding and answered the question so simply that we asked …..THANK YOU from one grateful mum… 🙂

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