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Biotin, a popular vitamin often used in supplements to increase hair growth, was found to be interfering with the results of blood tests. False results may lead to wrong health management or a misdiagnosis, and in one known case, death. ( Sergei Supinsky | Getty Images )
A popular vitamin used to make hair grow faster has been found to be screwing up blood tests, potentially causing incorrect results and allowing health issues to go undetected.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has sent out a warning about the side effects of the vitamin, urging consumers to avoid taking supplements that contain it.
The Effects Of Biotin On Blood Tests
Biotin is a vitamin often used to increase hair growth, as well as make nails grow faster and improve skin health. The vitamin is also a component in some multi-natal and prenatal pills, and sometimes doctors prescribe high doses of it treat a kind of nerve pain named neuropathy.
However, according to the FDA, patients who are ingesting significant levels of what was supposedly a harmless vitamin carry the risk of receiving wrong blood test results.
The FDA said that biotin in the blood of patients may result in falsely high or falsely low results, and these incorrect results could lead to wrong health management or a misdiagnosis.
One example that the FDA gave was a blood test for detecting troponin, a biomarker that helps to diagnose heart attacks. Patients with significant levels of biotin in their blood may return test results with falsely low troponin, leading to a misdiagnosis. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened in one case reported to the FDA, as a patient with high biotin levels passed away after test results showed falsely low troponin levels.
The FDA is now working with physicians and hospitals for a better understanding of how biotin interferes with test results, and for the development of improved testing procedures for patients with high biotin levels in their blood. In the meantime, consumers are advised to talk to their doctor if they suspect biotin interference in any blood tests that they take to assess possible options for their situation.
The Importance Of Blood Tests
Biotin interference on blood tests is a major issue that patients should be aware of, especially as the importance of blood tests continues to grow with the development of new technology and procedures.
Earlier this year, researchers were able to formulate a method to detect skin cancer using gene-based blood tests. A couple of months later, researchers were then able to develop a new blood test that will improve treatment for prostate cancer.
Another new type of blood test was then created by a team of scientists with the purpose of detecting early-stage cancer. Described as a “liquid biopsy,” the new cancer detection method replaces the need to take tissue samples with drawing blood.
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