Beauty cream or agents of death
The craze for creams and medicines to enhance bodily parts such as the breasts and buttocks something usually associated with Hollywood stars who thrive on beauty to market themselves in the competitive movie industry, has finally landed on the shores of Ghana.
Currently on the market are breasts and buttocks enhancing creams which are highly patronised by women because they are not pleased with their nature's endowments, for which reason they strive to improve upon what God has offered them.
Whereas most of these products bear no contact details of their manufacturers to ensure traceability and verifiability they also make startling claims in attempts to boost their sales.
Some of these claims include promising users tight and firm breasts and buttocks, aside enlarging them. They also claim that these products tighten the apparent tones and contours of the breasts.
Information on one of the breast products, named Dove Breast Enlarging Cream, reads: Visible tone and texture of the skin and improve the firm feel of the supporting skin of the breast and the skin from the breast to the chin, which is important for a proper shape".
But against the proliferation of such products on the market comes strong warnings to users from the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) and other health professionals.
Mr P. K. Agyeman-Duah, Head of Drug Inspectorate of the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) told The Spectator that creams and soaps supposedly meant for breast and hip enlargement are all fake and have no scientific proof of providing what has been labelled on the packets.
He said the so called breast and hip enlargement products are smuggled through unapproved routes and are not registered products of the FDB.
Mr Agyeman-Duah said the breast and hip enlargement products are only to play on the ignorance of women who are in desperate need of enhancing the size of the breast and vital body outlooks.
He said a test at the FDB ultra-modern and state of the art laboratory has proven that there was nothing found to tally with the ingredients on the packaging.
Mr Agyeman-Duah said most of these fake products did not have labels that indicate the name of the manufacturer, country of origin, full address and the English language as required to enable the user of the product read and understand.
Mr Agyeman-Duah warned consumers to be wary of drugs being peddled on the market saying "before you buy any medicine or drugs, make sure you are buying it from a accredited shop so that in case of any side effect it is easy to trace the problem and solve it".
He said all accredited drugs both orthodox and herbal should carryon their packaging and FDB code which consumers must always look out for before buying them.
"With this, one can quickly call the FDB to ascertain the efficacy of the product or otherwise," said Mr Agyeman-Duah.
He explained that the FDB was considering plans to publish the names of shops that are found to have sold fake or counterfeit products on the market.
According to him, the law means that nobody has the right to sell any such product unless it has been registered with the FDB.
A breast cancer specialist, Dr Beatrice Wiafe-Addai, also adds her voice to the development, saying women who have been using cosmetic creams to enhance their breasts are only inviting trouble for themselves.
Dr Wiafe-Addai, who is the president of the Breast Care International, a non-governmental organisation, and chief executive of Peace and Love Hospital in Kumasi, said the chemical contents of such creams were not known and they could be dangerous to users.
She explained that cancer is an uncontrolled growth of tissue, so if the chemicals in the cream were dangerous and got into the tissues through the pores, they could cause the cells to grow abnormally which could lead to breast cancer.
The breast specialist wondered why most Ghanaian females, especially the youth, take so much "interest in enhancing their breasts just to please men, most of whom do not fancy that anyway. In her words of admonition: "It is a dangerous practice."
She contended that women in show-business in the developed countries often resorted to breast enhancement which was mostly done by surgery, but even that had its own related problems.
Dr Wiafe-Addai urged the radio stations to stop the advertisements of such creams due to the fact that the chemical contents are still not known.
Mrs Ellen Sam, a pharmacist at the Police Hospital in Accra, said breast, buttocks and male organ enlargement by the use of creams could not be trusted to be purely herbal with no side effects as the manufacturers claim.
"In the first place these products have no specific addresses except websites. These websites are also fake, as most of the time they cannot be accessed," she said, adding, "In fact, our major concern is that breast shape and size are largely determined by genetics. Even members of the same family have different sizes and shapes."
'What exactly do these creams and injectables do to the breast, buttocks or penis or body as a whole? Are they just causing retention of fluids in the breast or affecting the breast tissue or do they stimulate hormones in the body to affect the breast size? In any case all these can have very serious adverse effects on the health of users," she said.
Mrs Sam, who is a Chief Superintendent of Police, advised the general public to consider that these products could interact with other medical conditions or with other drugs the users may be taking, be they prescription or over-the-counter drugs, and precipitate hazardous reactions with fatal consequences.
She said people should be very careful and do well to consult their medical doctors or physicians before they go in for any such products. “We would not encourage people to patronise these products at all. The claim that such products have no side effects could be that they have delayed side-effects which may show up in some five to 10 years time.”
According to Mrs Sam, the after-effects could be breast cancer or cardiovascular diseases. She noted with concern that because such drugs often had steroids in them, users stand very high risk of developing blood pressure, peptic ulcer or demineralization the bones (osteoporosis) and all these conditions are very serious medical conditions which victims may suffer later in life, the causes of which they cannot remember.
"Be careful, do not let these purely marketing claims used to make money by the manufacturers convince you into using them”, she said.
Dr Alex N.O. Dodoo, acting Director and Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Tropical Clinical Pharmacol and Therapeuti, University of Ghana Medical School, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital said "any product which proclaims to enhance your God-given 'assets' should not be trusted. When tested, they will do it for short time and with intolerable and unacceptable adverse effects. At worst they will take your money and do you harm. If you live healthy lifestyle, eat well, exercise, drink only moderately and accept the normal ageing process, you should be able to perform perfectly as befits your age, gender and health.”
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Food and Drugs Board (FDB), Mr James Lartey, said the Dove Breast Enlargement Cream and Hip-up Cream (for buttocks) are not registered products with the FDB.
He said they have not been tested, approved and given authority for them to be marketed in Ghana.
The FDB thereto urged the public not to patronise such products, since their safety cannot be guaranteed.
Mr. Lartey referred to section 8 (i) of the Food and Drugs Law (PNDC Law 305 (b) which provides that: "No person shall manufacture, prepare, sell, supply, export or import into Ghana any drug, cosmetic, medical device, or chemical substance unless the article has been registered with the Food and Drugs Board.