The American Liver Foundation (ALF), a national nonprofit organization that provides education, advocacy and research on behalf of the 30 million Americans affected by liver disease, today issued a warning based on a recent study on the effects of high doses of the popular pain reliever acetaminophen on the liver.

The study, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), showed that healthy adults who took the maximum recommended dose of acetaminophen for two weeks had drastically increased liver enzyme levels which could lead to liver damage.

"The American Liver Foundation recommends that people not exceed three grams of acetaminophen a day for any prolonged period of time as recently demonstrated in the JAMA article," said Dr. James Boyer, chairman of the board of directors of the American Liver Foundation. "This is the equivalent of six 'extra-strength' tablets a day for several weeks. Regular, short-term use of the product is not an issue. Anyone currently suffering from liver disease should check with their physician or hepatologist before taking acetaminophen."

Over 200 over-the-counter medicines contain some form of acetaminophen, so consumers are urged to make sure they know how much of the product they are taking. Acetaminophen is a key ingredient to such well-known brands as Tylenol and Vicodin. Acute liver failure caused by excess acetaminophen has risen to from 28% of all cases in 1998 to 51% in 2003.

Key Facts About Liver Disease

-- The liver is one of the body's largest organs, performing hundreds of functions every day. It removes harmful substances from the blood, makes bile to help digest fat, and stores energy.

-- 30 million Americans - one in every 10 - are or have been affected by a liver, biliary, or gallbladder disease.

-- Liver disease and cirrhosis are the 7th leading cause of death among adults between the ages of 25 and 64 in the U.S.

-- Many forms of liver disease are preventable, and many more, if detected early, can be treated effectively.

About the American Liver Foundation

The American Liver Foundation is the nation's leading nonprofit organization promoting liver health and disease prevention. ALF provides research, education and advocacy for those affected by liver-related diseases including hepatitis. Please visit the American Liver Foundation's Web site at liverfoundation

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