The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHP) issued a warning to the public on the dangers of bodybuilding products sold online. 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, MoHP stated.
Dr Amin Hussain Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary of Public Health Policy and Licensing, said the ministry issued a circular to the directors of medical zones and public and private hospitals, doctors and pharmacists to alert them of the indiscriminate use of bodybuilding products following a recent warning 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 and coagulation in deep veins.
“The FDA 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,” said Al Amiri.
He said that consumption of these energising 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 further suggested that special medical examinations must be done for the liver and kidneys periodically to avoid complications.
Dr Al Amiri 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 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 a prescription.
Inspections of pharmacies
Dr Al Amiri said the ministry 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 licence.
He said the absence of parental control and 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.
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.