A senior UK coroner has called for a health warning to be added to protein shakes after the death of an Indian-origin teen.
Rohan Godhania, 16, fell ill and passed away three days after drinking a protein shake in August 2020.
Godhania, who died at a West Middlesex Hospital, suffered ‘irreversible brain damage’.
Let’s take a closer look:
What happened to Godhania?
According to Metro, Rohan’s father Pushpa said he bought the protein drink for Rohan to build up his muscles.
“We thought that rather than just nagging him, if he built up muscles in his shoulders he would stand a bit taller.”
“He was fine with it and then late afternoon when we were having lunch, he said his tummy ached,” Pushpa previously was quoted as saying by MyLondon. “He didn’t have anything else to eat and a little later on in the early evening he vomited a few times. Again, there was nothing concerning.”
According to Metro, Rohan’s family began worrying the next day and rushed him to hospital. Rohan was put in intensive care – where a CT scan found severe swelling in his brain.
Neurologists told the family they could not operate as it would not be in Rohan’s best interests.
Rohan passed away on 18 August, 2020.
According to Metro, the protein shake caused ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) deficiency – a rare genetic condition that prevents breakdown of ammonia in Rohan’s bloodstream and caused it to build to deadly levels.
The outlet said the cause of death could not be initially identified as his organs were donated for transplant.
The individual who received the organs was also rushed to hospital for seizures a little over a year later.
According to BBC, a senior coroner has called for health warnings to be added to protein drinks.
Coroner Tom Osborne was quoted as saying by BBC, “Concerning these protein drinks, my preliminary view about them is that I ought to write to one of the regulatory authorities that some sort of warning ought to be put on the packaging of these drinks because, although OTC is a rare condition, it can have harmful effects if someone drinks [one] and it causes a protein spike.”
The outlet quoted Finbar O’Callaghan, professor of paediatric neurology at the Institute of Child Health, University College London, as saying this could be “potentially life-saving.”
Are protein drinks harmful?
According to Times Now, protein powders are derived from plants (soybeans, peas, rice, potatoes, or hemp), eggs, or milk (casein or whey protein).
Many people swear by protein shakes and powders as a necessary tool to get in shape or pack on muscles.
“I don’t recommend using protein powders except in a few instances, and only with supervision,” dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was quoted as saying by Harvard Health.
Jan Annigan, who holds a sports medicine and human performance certificate from the University of Washington, wrote for Weekand.com that protein powders can:
- Cause allergies
- Upset your digestive system
- Cause organ damage
- Expose you to toxic chemicals
- Cause obesity and
- Even result in malnutrition
“Despite their ease of use, however, they can be dangerous to your health. Your individual physiology can determine how well you tolerate them, but, even if you have no problem in that regard, protein shakes can be a source of toxicity that might lead to health problems,” Annigan wrote.
While research on the effects of protein powder remains scarce, the BBC quoted a 2020 study in the journal Nature Metabolism as saying that mice fed a high-fat, high-protein diet were found to have 30 per cent more plaque in their arteries compared to the control group.
Experts also say protein shakes are unlikely to help the common man.
BBC quoted Stuart Phillips, who has spent 20 years studying impact of diets, as saying that they are unlikely to make a difference for you unless you are a professional athlete.
“Someone consuming extra protein and exercising two or three times a week will likely see a minimal benefit, while those working out four or five times a week might see a small benefit,” Philips told BBC.
With inputs from agencies
Read all the Latest News, Trending News, Cricket News, Bollywood News, India News and Entertainment News here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.