Overuse of certain pain pills can be very dangerous

Think popping extra pain pills can't hurt? Think again: Accidental poisonings from the United States' most popular pain reliever seem to be rising, making acetaminophen the leading cause of acute liver failure.

Use it correctly and acetaminophen, best known by the Tylenol brand, lives up to its reputation as one of the safest painkillers. It's taken by some 100 million people a year, and liver damage occurs in only a small fraction of users.

But it is damage that can kill or require a &to=http://english.pravda.ru/region/2002/12/03/40299.html' target=_blank>liver transplant, damage that frustrated liver specialists insist should be avoidable.

The problem comes when people don't follow dosing instructions _ or unwittingly take too much, not realizing acetaminophen is in hundreds of products, from the over-the-counter remedies Theraflu and Excedrin to the prescription narcotics Vicodin and Percocet.

"The argument that it's the safest sort of has overruled the idea that people cannot take any amount they feel like," says Dr. William Lee of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, who laments that acetaminophen is popped like M&Ms.

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