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Mystery bodybuilding pills claim 26-year-old's life

For the past 12 days, the Deulkar family has been desperately trying to determine the name of the muscle-building pills that allegedly claimed the life of their only son, an aspiring body builder. A resident of Antop Hill, Rajesh (26), breathed his last on May 31, after battling for his life for over a week. His parents and the doctors who treated him are still clueless about the fatal pills that he had been taking to develop his muscles. The grieving parents don’t want the supplements to claim another victim.


Rajesh was a bodybuilder and aspired to join the Mumbai Police. He had won the third prize for body building in a local competition and was preparing for another contest. Pic/Suresh KK

“Rajesh was very particular about his trips to the gym. Every evening for the last six years, he would put in two hours at the gym and had even managed to develop a strong physique. He never ever mentioned any pills to us. But one day, a courier from Ahmedabad arrived. The package contained some Ayurvedic muscle-building pills, but the parents could not read the brand name. His mother confronted him but to no avail. “We had cautioned him against taking any such drugs, then, but he paid no heed to our pleas,” recalled the heartbroken father Ramesh.

Rajesh, who opted against a college education, had been working as a data entry operator with a monthly salary of Rs 6,500. He had left the job last month and applied to the city’s police force and was awaiting a call for an interview. The father recalled, “My son was a vegetarian and had no vices. Though he was physically strong, I would always tell him to do traditional push-ups and surya namaskar to tone his muscles and body, instead of pushing weights and popping tablets to gain muscles. He had even won the third prize for body building in a local competition and was preparing for another bodybuilding competition.”

According to his father, Rajesh had been slightly depressed after sitting at home unproductive for the past month. He had submitted forms for railway recruitment and even his CV to a few private companies, but nothing had come of his efforts. One such evening after returning from the gym, he said he was feeling drowsy. His condition gradually started worsening; he started finding it difficult even to wake up.

Soon he had to be taken to a private nursing home. Doctors collected blood and urine samples and suspected it to be a case of some kind of drug overdose. He was discharged, but two days later his condition worsened. Rajesh started vomiting repeatedly, and was shifted to Sion hospital on May 26. At the hospital, he complained of a severe burning sensation in his abdomen. Over the next five days, he was shifted to three private hospitals, and was given dialysis after renal failure. On May 31, he breathed his last. “I had to take loans from my friends and had even mortgaged gold to collect the Rs 2.5 lakh that the treatment cost, but even after this my son could not be saved,” rued Ramesh.

Doctor’s opinion
Dr Mohan Joshi, a professor of surgery at Sion hospital who had treated Rajesh, said, “I found something abnormal with Rajesh. He was complaining of acute abdominal pain and his breathing was not normal.

The history that was given to us indicated that the patient might have been on steroid pills for bodybuilding and the symptoms could be side effects of the same. We also were informed that the patient was taking a mixture of both ayurvedic and allopathic drugs for muscles. Though his X-ray reports did not show any perforation, he was slipping into acute renal failure and needed dialysis with intensive care support.”

Experts speak
People should go for routine exercise and not for artificial drugs for muscle building, which can affect liver, kidney and other vital parameters. Refrain from fat burning supplements and don’t fall prey to advertisements that promise miracles. - Dr Mohan Joshi

Protein supplements should not be taken on the basis of word of mouth, unless recommended by qualified nutritionists in the gym, who calculate the required protein for the body. No muscle building pills or protein supplements should be taken, even if recommended by gym instructors, unless a family doctor evaluates the ingredients and side effects. A healthy diet rich in protein and other vital vitamins is easily achievable via natural sources of food. - Preeti Banwat, dietician with Rajawadi hospital

Weight training is very effective, provided it is done under proper guidance and in the presence of fitness instructors. Most of the time, professional body builders who are taking regular steroids and protein supplements pass on their body building techniques to young boys, who start following them without seeking medical advice. They overlook the side effects, which could be fatal. Many of these protein supplements are manufactured in foreign countries and marketed in India, and people who use them have no way of confirming if the same is genuine or adulterated. - Rajesh Parab, professional weight and power lifter

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