Paracetamol increases fracture risk by 50%
Australian researchers are warning about the possible effects of paracetamol on bone metabolism following a study showing the analgesic may increase the risk of a fracture by more than 50%.
The case-control study, in Bone, analysed data from the Geelong Osteoporosis Study. This included 560 women with incident fractures and a control group of 775 women without incident fracture.
Paracetamol use was 12% among the fracture group and 8% in the control group, representing an increased risk of 56%. Bone mineral density did not confound the association.
The study authors say the mechanism underlying the paracetamol-fracture link may involve the cannabinoid receptor being activated, as previous evidence has shown this affects the regulation of bone mass. Paracetamol also acts on prostaglandins and the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme, which modulate bone re-modelling, they note.
“These data suggest that paracetamol may have an independent impact on fracture risk, although the exact mechanism of action is unknown,” they say. “Given the widespread use of paracetamol, this is of clear public health relevance and the result merits replication and validation in other clinical and pre-clinical studies.”