A reader has tasted something funny in this pain remedy Copy

  • Oops, sorry for my gaff
  • A reader has tasted something funny in this popular over-the-counter pain remedy
  • Why these drugs can be dodgy

I remember once seeing someone post a funny proofreading gaff online.

It was from a report on infectious diseases and STDs, which contained a list including Chlamydia, Syphilis, Lyme disease and – er…

“Genital Wars.”

Genital Wars?

I can’t imagine that being something George Lucas would take on as a box office smash movie idea. Or an idea Channel 5 would take on as a reality show – though I’ve seen worse.

Anyway, I’m not immune to such typo gaffs, as you probably know if you’re a long term reader. The Good Life Letter is written a day or two before you see it, so that it’s fresh and timely.  We’re primarily interested in getting out message across in an honest, direct way.

We do have a proof-reader but she was away last week, so I (foolishly) checked the email myself. Which was why I didn’t spot an error…

When I talked about beneficial forms of bacteria that protect against inflammatory gut condition, I said in my email:

“You`d be in trouble with them”.

Of course, as one reader pointed out, I meant WITHOUT them. The very opposite.

Yes indeed, without good bacteria in your gut, you’d be in a sorry state, so you really do need them!

Anyway, normal proofreading services are back this week, so I hope there will be no mistakes in this one (though a few sometimes slip through!)

Talking of reader emails….

This problem ingredient has cropped up in the least expected place

Another one of my readers got in touch about a recent article in the Daily Mail about the dangers of aspartame, something I’ve written to you about many times in the past.

Aspartame, one of the most widely used sweeteners, yet it has alleged links to epilepsy, brain tumours and nervous system problems.

My reader explains:

“Recently, I had to take paracetamol, for a back pain.  I chose to take effervescent type.  I was surprised to find that the liquid was sweet.  I checked on the ingredients and found that the manufacturers had added aspartame.  Can I not escape the damned stuff?  It is bad enough to find sugar added to savoury dishes and more.  From bread, to dog foods.  If the farmers don’t kill us, surely the scientists and food processors will.”

The Mail article to which he refers was about how Professor Erik Millstone, a critic of the Aspartame, believes that 2-10% of regular consumers suffer neurological effects such as blurred vision, headaches and, in worst case scenarios, seizures.

Aspartame is put into many low-calorie and sugar-free products. These include soft drinks, mints and gum, desserts, vitamins, supplements and ‘sugar-free’ sweets.  Which is why estimates are the 200 million consume it regularly.

Obviously, the establishment came out in force and argued that Millstone was ignoring evidence to the contrary, but he is by far not the only serious scientist to voice concerns.

It not only aspartame either that’s the problem.  Sucralose, another big sweetener, was criticised in the ‘Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health’ in 2013 in a report which suggested that this it could:

  • Reduce levels of good gut bacteria
  • Weaken the effect of medicines
  • Alter your insulin responses and blood sugar levels
  • Increase the likelihood of getting 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Personally, I dislike the taste of diet drinks because of the sweeteners, so I’ve always checked the label and chosen the regular version.

But it’s not even enough to avoid diet products.

Nowadays they’re creeping into regular products too, like sauces and crisps.  Manufacturers are doing this to lower their sugar quotes so that they can appear to be making their products healthier.

“No added sugar” they boast, despite it being laced with artificial sweeteners instead.

The dodgy ingredients in this common pain drug

I didn’t realise that Aspartame was in some forms of paracetamol products, but that’s not the only problem ingredient in paracetamol.

It also contains acetaminophen, an ingredient known as Tylenol in the USA and in some UK remedies.

In 2011, British researchers showed there was a risk of accidental overdose when this was taken in staggered amounts over a few days. While another study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, suggested links to blood cancers, asthma and eczema.

I’ve also seen another study from The University of Toronto that showed how, as well as inhibiting pain, acetaminophen blocks other signals in your brain. This includes your ability to recognise mistakes and errors.

See, in your everyday life you use something called “Cognitive control” to get through your day. It helps you do everything from walking and talking, to reading or studying. It happens automatically in your brain without you thinking about it….

But sometimes you need to interrupt these automatic processes when something out of the ordinary happens.

For instance, let’s say you’re talking to a friend while crossing the road. If a car begins to wobble or drive abnormally, your brain kicks in to alert you.

The authors of this study say that in when you’re taking paracetamol this function is inhibited.

This backs up findings from a massive study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (2011) which found that many over-the-counter drugs can cause cognitive impairment, including Benadryl, Dramamine, Excedrin PM, Nytol, Sominex, Tylenol/Paracetamol and Unisom.

And to cap it all off, research in the Lancet in 2016 concluded that Paracetamol doesn’t offer the kind of pain relief for aching joints that most people would expect. In fact, it doesn’t help 8 out of 10 people who take it to ease their knee and hip pain.

So if you’re interested in reducing pain, try and look for as many drug-free and natural remedies as you can.

To see what’s available, take a look on the Good Life Letter shop to find some alternative methods that might work for you.

Click here to visit the shop

I’ll be back over the weekend with more.

Yours, as always

Ray Collins