Mix acetaminophen with an alcoholic drink or two and your kidneys may take a hit, found a preliminary study led by Harrison Ndetan, MSc, MPH, DrPH, an assistant professor of research and biostatistics at Parker University in Dallas. Half of the subjects who reported taking the painkiller and drinking a small to moderate amount of alcohol on a weekly basis suffered from kidney disease (a striking 123 percent higher increase in risk than those who took either alone rather than in combination.). Acetaminophen inhibits a protein that the body uses to metabolize alcohol, Ndetan explains. Plus, alcohol can cause dehydration, which stresses the kidneys even more.
The lesson: Don't combine acetaminophen with alcohol, Ndekan advises (although he notes that the findings just show an association and research is ongoing). Which sounds straight-forward enough, but the painkiller is a "hidden" ingredient in many over-the-counter medications.