California has a law that requires officials to warn people of any chemical known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. A huge headache is looming over whether to list acetaminophen as a carcinogen, joining 900 other chemicals ranging from alcohol to toxic pesticides.

Think about the impact: acetaminophen is one of the world's most common over-the-counter, non-prescription drugs. It's part of 600 other medications including Tylenol, Excedrin, Sudafed, Robitussin and Theraflu. In the past, proof of acetaminophen's link to cancer has been weak at best.

If they do add acetaminophen, it's is going to pain us all. Since 1990, the International Agency for Research on Cancer declined to list it as a possible carcinogen. I believe the California regulators are overzealous. Even the U.S. FDA has cautioned California officials that labeling acetaminophen as cancer-causing would be "false and misleading," and also illegal under federal law.

Booze has been listed as a carcinogen since 1988. But instead of warning labels, California retailers are given signs to post where alcohol is sold. Interestingly, though, when a court ruling would have resulted in warning labels for coffee, California state regulators stepped in and exempted the beverage. Now that's thought-provoking.

That state's public comment period ends on January 27, and then a panel of professionals will have public hearings this spring when the world will hear whether or not California considers declaring Tylenol's key ingredient a carcinogen. I'll keep an eye on this story.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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