Botox Ate My Brain

Botox ate my brain, and Aliens Ate My Buick!

Well, all right. Not mine, because I’m an uppity woman and I don’t believe in fucking up my face to maintain an illusion of youth. (I’m also damn beautiful as is, if I do say so myself.) But aside from that, my science-fictional taggage does have a point, and here it comes:

Botulinum neurotoxin type A, sold as Allergan Inc.’s Botox remedy for wrinkles, can move from its injection site to the brain, a study shows.

Scientists injected rats’ whisker muscles with botulism toxin. Tests of the rodents’ brain tissue found that botulism had been transported to the brain stems, the researchers said in the Journal of Neuroscience published April 2.

Botox is Allergan’s biggest product, with $1.21 billion in sales last year. The drug, approved in 1989, became fashionable among aging celebrities seeking to smooth facial wrinkles and is used to treat some neurological disorders. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether patients contracted botulism, a muscle-weakening illness, from Botox and Myobloc, a product from Solstice Neurosciences Inc.

“The idea that there could be some transmission of this to the central nervous system needs to be followed up,” said Mathew Avram, the director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Dermatology, Laser and Cosmetic Center, in Boston, in a telephone interview today. “But this treatment has been used on millions of people for years, and we’re not seeing major central nervous system issues with it.”

There’s a word missing from the end of that last quote: YET.

And does anyone really want to wait and see? Those effects can show up anytime, and may take years to manifest. You also can’t predict who will suffer them and who won’t. Silicone injections, for instance, make terrific, permanent wrinkle fillers–until a recipient turns up years later with raised scars at the injection sites, and a host of silicone-related health problems.

Botox isn’t exactly the easy route to rejuvenation it’s been billed as, either. The sharp rise in non-medically-trained people doing injections has been nothing but Bhad Nhews for those on the receiving end, who have been overwhelmingly female. Botox parties trivialize the dangers of what is, after all, the same toxin that causes neural damage in victims of botulism food poisoning.

If you wouldn’t swallow it, shouldn’t you think twice about injecting it in your face? Especially when your facial muscles are so close to your brain?

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