Botox May Harm Brain

Apr 03, 2008
Scientists found that popular anti-wrinkle treatment with Botox can pose serious health risks as the toxin may spread from face to the brain.

During a study conducted at the Italian National Research Council's Institute of Neuroscience in Pisa, scientists injected Botox into the whisker muscles of rats and found that traces of the toxin was present in the brain of the rats three days later and six months after the experiment.

Dr. Matteo Caleo, a leading author of the study said that the experiments showed that toxin spread from the area that controls long-term memory and spatial navigation to other areas of the rat's brain and was found in the part of the brain that controls eye-head coordination.

Botox is produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinumbotulinum toxinand in small dose is widely used in cosmetic treatment as well as for treatment of muscle spasms, migraine headaches, excessive sweating. Botox effect of smoothing the skin that may last for several months is contributed by its ability to weaken and paralyze muscles and block nerves.

However, treatment with Botox may result in such side effects as headaches, muscle weakness, upset stomach, flu-like syndromes, and allergic reactions.

Botox received FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval for commercial use in 1989 and made about £600 million in sales last year.

The U.S. FDA has warned about possible risks of using Botox Myobloc in children resulting in severe muscle spasms. Last month, the FDA reported about some cases with unfavorable reactions like fluid in the lungs or pneumonia and some cases when Botox injections lead to death, when the toxin was spread to other body areas.

Experts say that in spite of the fact that physiology of rats and humans are different, there is still a high risk and further research is necessary.