A friend of mine went into hospital this week in intense pain all over her body. The doctor she saw immediately – she has private health care - asked her whether she takes oral pain killers, and when she said yes, he told her that he loved patients that do, because they're making him rich.
While I don't know exactly what he was insinuating – it could be that they keep masking the problems till they're bigger, or it could be that he knows something about the effects of constant drug use on the liver, kidneys, stomach lining and so on that we do not – a Reuters article struck me while I had his comment in the back of my mind.
The article titled Study links painkillers to reproductive disorders, in brief, states that use of mild painkillers such as paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen during pregnancy, especially the second trimester, may partly account for a sharp increase in male reproductive disorders.
The research found that women who took more than one type of painkiller during pregnancy had an increased risk of giving birth to sons with undescended testicles, a condition called cryptorchidism. This condition causes poor semen quality and poses a greater risk of testicular cancer later in life.
While the researchers from Finland, Denmark and France said that further studies were urgently needed and advice being given to pregnant women on the safety of painkillers should be reconsidered, Neal Patel of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society felt that the research should be "interpreted with caution".
"This study adds to the body of evidence about the effect of medicines on foetal development. However, due to study limitations, further research is needed to draw firm conclusions about the effect of painkillers on male fertility”.
I remember attending a first aid course for babies before my daughter was born, and being told that children can have a paracetamol and ibuprofen together. I guess the moral of the story is be careful what you put into your body, especially if you're pregnant, and only take what you really need to take.
I'd say consult your doctor if you're not sure, but based on the above, I'm not altogether sure they know for certain themselves.