Warning: Health risks posed by body-building products sold online

UAE health authorities warn indiscriminate use of some products, sold illegally or online in the UAE, pose health risks

Staff Report
11:52 September 11, 2017
Dr Amin Al Amiri

Abu Dhabi: The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) has issued a warning to the public regarding the dangers of using some bodybuilding products that are sold online.

It said many of these unregulated health stimulants may contain toxic energisers or synthetic male hormone boosters that may cause serious health risks, including fatal injury to the liver and kidney and threaten the user’s life.

Dr Amin Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary of public health policy and licensing at MOHAP, said that the ministry released a circular to the directors of medical zones and public and private hospitals.

The circular were also addressed to doctors and pharmacists to alert them against the indiscriminate use of bodybuilding products following a recent alert from the US Food and Drug Administration.

The circular noted that many products have been found to contain toxic substances or steroid-like substances as well as artificial male hormones. Continued use of these substances may be hazardous and could cause serious health risks, including liver injuries, threatening people’s lives.

Dr Al Amiri said that apart from liver injury, absorption of steroids has unhealthy side effects such as severe acne, hair loss, increased aggression and depression, and life-threatening reactions such as kidney damage, heart attacks, stroke and pulmonary embolism (a blockage of a major blood vessel in the lungs) and coagulation in deep veins. Specialist physicians should always be consulted before using such substances.

He added: “The US Food and Drug Administration has warned that many of these products are promoted for bodybuilding, and muscles development, whereas they contain synthetic steroids or and hormones related to testosterone.”

He highlighted that most of these products enter the country illegally, coming from companies that have not been licensed to sell in the country, nor are they in compliance with international standards.

He emphasised that MOHAP’s strict regulation requires a physician prescription for the dispensing of such products, especially the injectable ones, which makes some users buy them outside the country through travellers coming from countries that allow the purchase of these products without prescription.

Dr Al Amiri said that MOHAP carries out periodic inspection visits to pharmacies to ensure compliance with the laws and legislation and takes punitive measures, starting from warning, alert, then issuing a violation when banned or unlicensed hormone products with medical claims are found, such violation could lead to the closure of the facility and revocation of license.

Dr Al Amiri commented that these products are usually sold on the internet in the form of food supplements, however, most of these are not nutritional supplements at all and are marketed illegally.

Some are also promoted as new medicines not yet approved globally. He added that the US FDA has not approved these products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed.