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Breast Cancer Drugs Found in Over-The-Counter Bodybuilding Pills

Update Date: Feb 14, 2014 02:33 PM EST

Men may have been unknowingly taking breast cancer drugs to bulk up for decades, according to a new report.

Researchers explain some body building dietary supplements contain the breast cancer drug tamoxifen, which is sometimes used to prevent and treat gynaecomastia or breast swelling caused by using anabolic steroids.

While tamoxifen for bodybuilding is usually sold on the black market, researchers believe that a dietary supplement called Esto Suppress contains tamoxifen as its label contained one of the drug's chemical names.

In the study, investigators obtained and analyzed four samples of Esto Suppress dietary supplements at different times between late 2011 and early 2012. The findings revealed that three out of four samples contained between 0,9mg to 3.8mg of tamoxifen.

Researchers said that people taking the suggested dosage of two capsules a day would be ingesting as much as 7.6mg of tamoxifen a day. They study noted that 10 to 20 mg of tamoxifen is used clinically for treating gynaecomastia.

While it is unclear whether Esto Suppress currently being sold still contains breast cancer drugs, study authors warned that an increasing number of off-the-shelf "food," "herbal," or "dietary" "supplements" claiming to help people buff up, lose weight or have better sex contain pharmacologically active substances like anabolic steroids, erectogenics, stimulants, appetite suppressants, and anxiolytics

Researchers warn that some products marketed as "natural" often contain substances that are not listed in the labeling or, in the case of Esto Suppress, given an obscure reference to manipulate people into believing that they are safer and healthier options.

Study authors wrote that most consumers "will be unaware that they are taking these substances" and advise healthcare professionals to ask their patients about their use of "supplements" and report negative reactions.

The report is published in the journal BMJ-British Medical Journal.

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