Products offering an easy detox 'are a waste of time'

Those who follow up on a new year resolution to "detox" by buying products that claim to clear their bodies of toxins are probably wasting their time, a study by science students has found.

Despite a lack of scientific evidence, consumers are being misled into believing "detox" products actually work, says the report out today from Voice of Young Science. The group represents PhD and post-doctorate students working in science.

The research students contacted various manufacturers and retailers to ask them about their claims, and concluded that "detox" has no meaning outside of clinical treatment for drug addiction or for poisoning.

No two companies use the same definition of "detox", and their claims are "meaningless", the study found.

While manufacturers used the word "detox" to "promote everything from foot patches to hair straighteners", they were unable to provide reliable evidence or consistent explanations as to what the word means, it said.

The British Dietetic Association, representing 6,000 dieticians across Britain, recently said there was no "potion or lotion" which could "magically" rid the body of harmful chemicals.

Harriet Ball, a biologist and one of the authors of today's report, said: "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."

In fact, "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, development officer at Sense About Science, which is publishing the report, said: "It is ridiculous that we're seeing a return to mystical properties being claimed for products in the 21st century."

A leaflet published along with the study describes the liver and kidneys as forming a highly efficient "detox" system.

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