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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Does Ox Bile salt have any dangerous side effects?

Hello, I just wanted to know how safe it is to take ox bile or any type of bile salts. I saw mixed reviews online. Most of the reviews state the benefits of taking ox bile or bile salts since it has tremendous benefits for digestion (which is a problem for me). I even found that some doctors (MDs) prescribe it and attest to its benefits even as a prevention for cancer or other diseases. At the same time I found an article online about research that was done in relation to bile acids contributing to cancer in the stomach or intestines. I found it strange since I had just read the complete opposite that it s actually for prevention rather than a promoter of such disease. So I wanted to know how safe it is to take ox bile or any type of bile salts and if it has any dangerous side effects. Thank you
Tue, 3 Apr 2018
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General & Family Physician 's  Response

My answer is as follows, while bile salts could enhance digestion following gallbladder removal and have many benefits for your health in general. They should be used with caution, as you rightly stated out, there has been evidenced an association between bile salt supplement and gastric cancer. More precisely, bile salts are considered as gastric cancer promoters. Cancer promoters stimulate cancer development through cell proliferation whereas real carcinogens cause cancer through cell mutations. It is not clear the level of importance of bile salts as gastric cancer promoters because literature data are ambiguous with some of them affirming such association and some others claim only a reduced importance of bile salts in such role.

Furthermore, bile salts do have other side effects, including digestive side effects (diarrhea, pain, vomiting, constipation); inflammation of the intestine, probably enhancing gastric cancer promoter effects; irritation of the skin, including redness, blisters, itching, etcetera. Therefore, the benefits of bile salts used to have to be weighed against their side effects.

My advice is that you should use them if you feel well or better after taking them and if you do not experience any severe side effects. In any case, you have to consult with your doctor and discuss with him/her about side effects of bile salts, including their role in development or initiation of gastric cancer.

Hope I have answered your query. Let me know if I can assist you further.

Dr. Ervin Toçi
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