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Death risk from taking too many paracetamol

PEOPLE who regularly take slightly too much paracetamol over a period of time could be at a higher risk of dying than those who take a one-off overdose of the drug, a study revealed today.

The danger arises because the so-called staggered overdoses are more difficult for doctors to assess and treat.

The research, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, showed that doctors usually take a blood sample to detect how much paracetamol is present when an overdose patient arrives at hospital.

For someone who has taken too much of the drug over a prolonged space of time, low levels of paracetamol could be detected in their blood even though they could still be at risk of organ failure or death.

Dr Kenneth Simpson, who worked with the University of Edinburgh and the Scottish Liver Transplantation Unit, said: "Over time the damage builds up, and the effect can be fatal."