Thursday, January 09, 2014


I heard a very interesting podcast about the drug Tylenol the other day on This American Life. It is the over-the-counter legal drug that kills more people than any other in the US each year.

Image from BaldBoris
It struck a chord with me because I remembered seeing a tweet from Taylor Phinney about the widespread use of this legal drug in the peloton and how he didn't agree with it.

To some people he came across very preachy, but to me it gave hope for the next generation of cyclists who can look at someone like Phinney and know that you can race even without "legal" drugs.

As I found in the This American Life Podcast, the scary thing about Tylenol is its low margin for error. Twice the recommended maximum dose could cause you real problems or even death. Compare this to something like Ibruprofen which has a many times larger margin for error.

According to the This American Life podcast 150 people a year die from taking acetaminophen in the US (the active ingredient in Tylenol) but in a country where 1 in 6 take it at least once a year that's probably not seen as a massive problem.

What I wonder about is what happens when an athlete takes it and their body is already under massive stress? Maybe their high metabolism cycles it through and its not a problem.

What concerns me more is when NZ coaches and their riders are seen via social media promoting the use of legal pain killers as a legitimate option, just because it is not illegal.

Promoting pill popping is not doing anyone any favours and only encourages the "arms race" . Anyway, listen to the podcast, its very interesting.


Jon Waghorn said...

The active ingredient in Tylenol is paracetamol (branded as Panadol, and other) in New Zealand. I shall now listen to the podcast...

El jefe said...

That's a good point Jonny, and exactly the drug being promoted in NZ.