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For illustrative purposes only Image Credit: Pixabay

Dubai: The Ministry of Health and Prevention has warned of a possible risk of cancer in patients using the weight-loss drug Belviq XR (lorcaserin).

In a circular issued to all health facilities, the ministry said there is no evidence to suggest that lorcaserin contributes to the risk of cancer.

However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on February 14 said it requested that the manufacturer of Belviq, Belviq XR (lorcaserin) voluntarily withdraw the weight-loss drug from the US market because a safety clinical trial shows an increased occurrence of cancer. The drug manufacturer, Eisai Inc., has submitted a request to voluntarily withdraw the drug.

The FDA clarified: “We are taking this action because we believe that the risks of lorcaserin outweigh its benefits based on our completed review of results from a randomized clinical trial assessing safety.”

No special screening for cancer was recommended.

The lorcaserin product is not registered with the UAE ministry, and the authority recommended that health care practitioners take the warning into account. Patients who are currently taking the drug should speak to their doctor about the possibility of an increased risk of cancer.

More focus on health

In a recent survey that explored the attitudes to health of 4,000 office workers in the UAE, USA, UK and Singapore, 56 per cent of UAE residents feel they need to improve their diet

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They admitted they have not had a health check in the last year and a significant number said they have no idea about the simple metrics of health such as cholesterol levels, according to new research from Aetna International, a global health benefits provider.

Inflexible and long working hours are compounding the problem as employees feel unable to take time off to manage their health, according to the report.

Most UAE workers acknowledge they could do more to improve their health, with over half (56 per cent) admitting their diet needs improvement and three quarters (75 per cent) saying they need to exercise more. When people do feel ill, however, 39 per cent say they tend to look up symptoms online and self-medicate rather than seeking out a doctor.