In one study, volunteers were asked to hypothetically inflate a balloon – the stronger it was, the more points they got. However, if it explodes, the profit is lost. Some people have taken 1000mg of paracetamol, which is the maximum single dose for adults. This altered their willingness to take risks compared to people in the control group who were only given a placebo: Those who took acetaminophen inflated their balloons more and blew them more often.
“We think that as the size of the balloon increased, those who took acetaminophen experienced less negative emotions and fear of the balloon bursting,” said Baldwin Way, a neuroscientist at Ohio State University. When the fear of bursting became too great, the participants stopped the experiment. Acetaminophen can reduce stress. This anxiety, which leads to increased risk.
The research team found similar results in two surveys in which people taking or not taking paracetamol were asked about the severity of the risk in different situations, for example. b- Betting the day’s winnings on a sporting event, bungee jumping or driving without a seat belt. Again, acetaminophen seemed to increase the risk, but the effect was small.
Way speculated that this could have implications in ‘real’ life as well: “Perhaps a person with mild Covid-19 symptoms will find it less risky to leave the house and mix with people if they take paracetamol.” But he warned: “We need more research on the effects of paracetamol and other over-the-counter medicines on the decisions and risks we make.”
Which: DOI 10.1093/scan/nsaa108