Paracetamol, the common drug for pain and fever,
can cause asthma.
An interim finding — on the eve of World Asthma Day (Tuesday) — of an ongoing
clinical study at the Chest Research Foundation (CRF), Pune, has found a link
between paracetamol and asthma.
The study will be presented to the international scientific community at the
European Respiratory Society Congress in Barcelona in September this year.
Dr Bill Brashier, Senior Research Scientist at CRF, who is conducting the study
along with Dr Rahul Kodgule said, “Using a special test called impulse
oscillometry we found that when paracetamol is administered on patients with
mild asthma, there was a definite increase in airway resistance, suggesting a
narrowing of the airways.” According to the scientist, this could be due to the
depletive effect of paracetamol on the protective antioxidant lining of the
While the findings are in line with other international studies that have
established an association between paracetamol and worsening of asthma, CRF
scientists said this is the first time that a causative link is been
What this suggests is that one should be cautious while giving paracetamol to
those already diagnosed with asthma, especially children, Brashier added.
The widely prescribed drug for fever and pain had come under the scanner when a
global study showed that its use in the first year of life was associated with
the risk of asthma and excema five to six years later. The Pune-based
researchers at CRF were part of the team of scientists from 31 countries who
studied two lakh children and the findings were published in The Lancet in
September 2008. While paracetamol remains the preferred drug to relieve pain and
fever in children, the findings support WHO guidelines recommending that the
drug be not used routinely but reserved for children with high fever.
This study, however, was conducted in
20 adults. Paracetamol was given for 15 days to patients with mild to
moderate asthma. They developed an increase in airway resistance,
Brashier said while conducting an interim analysis.
“The sample size was low but now, due to the
findings, we will embark upon a study with a larger group,” he said. As
part of its initiatives to combat respiratory diseases like asthma and
COPD, CRF recently started a programme, ‘Controlling Asthma in Pediatric
Population Through Education and Research’, which provides training to
paediatricians and post-graduate students in early diagnosis and correct
On World Asthma Day 2010, CRF is joining other
organisations in the world in launching the Asthma Control Challenge.
The objective is to cut hospitalisation by 50 per cent in next five
years. CRF will lead an awareness rally from Shaniwarwada to Vartak
Udyan, Narayan Peth, starting at 7 am on Tuesday.