Dr. Amin Al Amiri: Some illegally-marketed products may contain hazardous substances that threaten the liver
The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) issued a warning to the public regarding the dangers of using some bodybuilding products that are sold online, stating that many of these unregulated health stimulants may contain toxic energizers 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 Hussain Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary of Public Health Policy & Licensing, MOHAP, said that the Ministry released a circular to the directors of medical zones and public and private hospitals, as well as 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.
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.
Al Amiri 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."
Hormones and steroids have many complications, it’s a global phenomenon being monitored by UAE authorities
Al Amiri explained that the consumption of these energizing products and hormones without referring to a doctor has become prevalent worldwide among young people in their desire to increase the size of their muscles to build an attractive body. He added that the growth of this phenomenon has been alarming in the lack of statistics regarding the number of users; especially that continuous usage without medical supervision has a disastrous health impact. He further suggested that special medical examinations must be done for the liver and kidneys periodically to avoid complications.
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 emphasized 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 travelers coming from countries that allow the purchase of these products without prescription. The youth's desire for strong and big muscles have attracted some to commit unlawful trading by providing clubs with hormone products without prescription.
MOHAP organizes inspection visits to curb spread of banned hormones
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.
His Excellency noted there is an integrated collaboration between the health authorities and municipalities in the country to make sure that there are no unlicensed hormone products for bodybuilding being sold. He said that these are pharmaceutical products subject to the requirements and control of the Ministry who is responsible for the registration and approval of its import and distribution.
Parents and media play a critical role in raising awareness and reporting sellers of banned hormones
Dr. Al Amiri said that the absence of parental control and the lack of awareness among family members regarding the risks of hormones and sports steroids contributes to the increase of young people buying them in gyms and other bodybuilding clubs, noting that most young people may not be aware of the health hazards of these hormones, for fear of being ridiculed for using these hormones instead of exerting physical efforts to develop them.
He urged parents to inform the Ministry or health authorities or the municipality when they come to know of these hormones being sold without medical prescription in clubs frequented by their children. He highlighted the media’s role in spreading awareness and guidance for young people in universities and schools, especially as it is difficult to treat the health consequences of these hormones, such as cancer and kidney failure.
He advised the youth to consult with a nutrition specialist when taking any hormones or stimulants and to perform periodic medical examinations because the long-term use of muscle-building products has negative effects such as hormonal imbalance in the body. It leads to disruption and atrophy of the glands responsible to produce these hormones especially testosterone which could have an impact on the male reproductive system, including impotence and infertility.
Illegal online trading platforms for body building products
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.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention cautions the public not to use these products or any other products without first ensuring their safety to help protect the residents of the country.