Painkillers are effective to manage acute and chronic pain, but they can bring health risks.
Several studies have shown that common painkillers people use in daily life may harm heart and kidney health, the immune system, and lead to sleep disorders and obesity.
For example, one study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs may increase the risk of heart and kidney failure.
They treated animals that had heart disease with an NSAID drug and found that the treatment alone could trigger low-grade inflammation in the heart and kidneys.
In addition, the combination of the drug and a heart attack could magnify this impact.
The drug used in the study was carprofen. The study is published in Life Sciences.
In another study, researchers examined if NSAID painkiller diclofenac is linked to a higher risk of heart attacks and stroke.
They examined the heart disease risks of using diclofenac compared with no NSAIDS, starting using other traditional NSAIDs, and starting paracetamol.
They analyzed the national registry data for more than 6.3 million adults in Denmark.
The result showed that starting diclofenac during the study period was linked to a higher risk of heart attacks and stroke within 30 days, compared with other traditional NSAIDs (ibuprofen or naproxen) or starting paracetamol.
Patients experienced more irregular heartbeat or flutter, ischemic stroke, heart failure, and heart attack.
The study is published in The BMJ.
In a third study, researchers from Newcastle University in the UK found that commonly prescribed painkillers are linked to obesity and sleep deprivation.
They examined the cardio-metabolic health in more than 133,000 participants from the UK Biobank.
They found that drugs commonly used to treat pain, like gabapentinoids such as gabapentin, pregabilin, and opiates, could double the risk of obesity and were linked to poor sleep.
The researchers explain that these painkillers can act as a sedative that makes patients less active and they have been shown to alter taste perception with a craving for sugar and sweet foods.
The team suggests that chronic pain drugs should be prescribed for shorter periods of time to reduce these serious health complications.
The study is published in PLOS ONE.
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