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Want whiter skin? Go natural, FDA says

By: - Reporter / @mj_uyINQ
/ 01:35 PM May 14, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Want whiter skin? Better stick to natural methods like eating lots of watermelon, avocado, broccoli, spinach and tomatoes to boost natural glutathione levels in your body, said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA gave this bit of advice to complexion-conscious Filipinos, warning that high doses of glutathione administered intravenously as a skin-whitening agent has been linked to fatal skin disorders.

FDA chief Dr. Suzette Lazo on Friday expressed alarm over the recent cases of fatal skin disorders such as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis linked to the unapproved use of glutathione IV administered at 600 milligrams to 1.2 grams once or twice a week.


“We have become increasingly alarmed that people use this in very high doses intravenously as a skin-whitening agent,” Lazo told reporters in a press briefing at the Department of Health office in Manila.

No FDA approval

She said the dosage between 600 milligrams and 1.2 grams administered as a skin-whitening agent has no approval from the FDA.

“The only approved indication for this format of glutathione is to help cancer patients cope with the toxicity associated with cisplatin chemotherapy,” said Lazo.

Glutathione is a natural and “endogenous” substance or antioxidant produced by the liver to help boost the body’s immune system. But manufacturers of the glutathione solution have successfully marketed it for its whitening properties.

“Glutathione as a skin whitener was an accidental discovery which has not been really established or proven according to bodies of medical literature,” said Lazo.

“We would like to remind the public and warn them that glutathione injection is a very unsafe practice and I hope they will stop receiving these injections at this point to preserve their health,” Lazo added.

Adverse reactions

Adverse drug reactions resulting from the use of glutathione IV for skin whitening reported to the FDA included skin rashes, Stevens-Johnson Sydrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, derangement in the thyroid function and kidney dysfunction, she noted.

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis are a life-threatening skin condition characterized by severe rash and skin shedding as if the skin has been burned.

Health officials advised Filipinos fixated to get whiter skin to resort to the natural, cheap and safest way of boosting glutathione levels in the body by eating plenty of vegetables and fruits regularly.

Avocado, broccoli, spinach, tomato and watermelon are a great source of glutathione, said Lazo. “If you eat these kinds of food, our body, through the liver would process endogenous glutathione,” she pointed out.

TAGS: Food, Health, Warnings
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