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When having a 'detox' can be bad for you

People are risking their health by coming off long-term medicines to give their body a "detox", according to new research.

A poll of 1,000 people found one in five thought it was okay to occasionally stop medicines for a long-term condition such as diabetes or asthma to cleanse their body.


A whole industry has built up around the idea of detoxing in recent years.

Proponents in the beauty sector gush about how it can help you lose weight, give a glow to the skin and improve hair condition.

But doctors warn that there are significat risks to cutting prescription medication without medical advice.

The survey on our knowledge of medicines also found that one-in-three people surveyed thought it was fine to take over-the-counter medicines that a pharmacist had specifically recommended for someone else.

The poll, for a major pharmacy body, the UK's National Pharmacy Association (NPA), also found people thought it was safe to give adult medication to children as long as the dosage was reduced.

A quarter incorrectly believed that aspirin was just a weaker version of ibuprofen.

Half of people questioned wrongly believed the flu vaccine can cause flu.

And one in 10 said they never check their medicines are still in date even though drugs can become increasingly less effective once they pass their expiry date.

Leyla Hannbeck, head of information at the NPA, said: "There is a lot of misunderstanding about how medicines work in your body.

"It's important to get the right treatment and the right advice -- which you can get from your local pharmacy often without an appointment.

"Most pharmacies now have consultation areas where you can sit down and talk with the pharmacist without being overheard."


"We are especially concerned that people with long-term conditions may feel it is right to 'detox' from time to time by taking a break from their prescribed medicines.

"For someone with, say, asthma, diabetes or depression, the result of doing so can be catastrophic," said the spokeswoman for pharmacists.