British scientists dismiss ‘detox’ myth as a con job

January 5th, 2009 - 6:27 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 5 (IANS) Don’t waste your money buying dodgy products that claim to ‘detox’ your body - instead, eat healthily and trust your liver and kidneys to do the job, scientists said in a report published Monday. British science students who reviewed a range of ‘detox’ products - from bottled water to face scrubs - say many were “meaningless”. The investigation was kicked off by a campaign to demolish “dodgy” science claims - where companies use phrases that sound scientific but do not actually mean anything.

Despite a lack of scientific evidence, consumers are being misled into believing ‘detox’ products actually work, said the report by Voice of Young Science, a group representing PhD and post-doctorate students working in science.

No two companies use the same definition of “detox”, and their claims are “meaningless”, the study found, concluding that “detox” has no meaning outside of clinical treatment for drug addiction or for poisoning.

The liver and kidneys, the scientists said, were the most efficient “detox” system to rid the body of harmful chemicals.

“Detox is marketed as the idea that modern living fills us with invisible nasties that our bodies can’t cope with unless we buy the latest jargon-filled remedy,” said biologist Harriet Ball, one of the authors of the report.

“There is little or no proof that these products work, except to part people from their cash and downplay all the amazing ways in which our bodies can look after themselves,” she added.

Alice Tuff of Sense About Science, which published the report, said: “It is ridiculous that we’re seeing a return to mystical properties being claimed for products in the 21st century.”

One researcher, who investigated a well-known face wash which claimed to ‘detoxify’ the skin by removing toxins, said the ‘toxins’ turned out to be the usual dirt, make-up and skin oils that any cleanser would be expected to remove.

And a five-day detox plan from a pharmaceutical chain was criticised for not being backed by evidence.

The researchers warned that, at worst, some detox diets could have dangerous consequences and, at best, they were a waste of money.

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