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Pain killer could protect liver

The damaging effects of alcohol abuse and obesity on the liver could be reduced by taking aspirin, scientists have claimed.

Research, reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggested using aspirin could also protect the body's largest internal organ from overdoses of another common painkiller, paracetamol (acetaminophen).

Wajahat Mehal, from Yale School of Medicine, said tests on mice showed aspirin reduced incidences of death caused by an overdose of acetaminophen.

He said the common analgesic may help prevent and treat liver damage from a number of non-infectious causes, adding: "Many agents such as drugs and alcohol cause liver damage, and we have found two ways to block a central pathway responsible for such liver injury. Our strategy is to use aspirin on a daily basis to prevent liver injury."

He said the discovery means patients with liver disease could be saved a lot of pain and discomfort because drugs that had previously failed clinical trials due to liver toxicity might be effective if combined with aspirin.

Studies show aspirin counteracts new mechanisms of acetaminophen or paracetamol-induced liver damage. Overdoses of acetaminophen account for most drug overdoses in the Western world.

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Yale School of Medicine