Hormones

Endocrinologist outrage at company offering “adrenal fatigue” tests


An Australian company selling mail-order tests for ‘adrenal fatigue’ online has been slammed by endocrinologists.

i-screen claims its $125 test can help diagnose “adrenal fatigue” by measuring cortisol and DHEA-S using saliva samples taken at four times within a 12-hour period.

Consumers buy a testing kit online and mail samples back to the company, which provides results within two weeks.

On its website, i-screen claims adrenal fatigue is “one of the most under diagnosed illnesses in western society and is estimated to affect 80% of adults” listing the most common signs as exhaustion, depression and sugar cravings.

But the test has been labelled “bogus” by Associate Professor Warrick Inder, past president of the Endocrine Society of Australia, who said adrenal fatigue was not a medical condition.

“In some circumstances using salivary cortisol can be very useful in diagnosis, but it’s of no value at all in assessing levels to diagnose adrenal fatigue, which doesn’t exist,” said Professor Inder, a consultant endocrinologist at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.

People buying the test were being “ripped off”, he said. They may also be at risk of unnecessary and potentially dangerous treatment if diagnosis leads to the prescribing of glucocorticoid medication.

“If these medications are prescribed in incorrect doses the side effects are quite profound,” Professor Inder told the limbic.

“People are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis if these medications are taken at higher than normal doses and what’s more, it’s also likely to increase their risk of death if taken for a long time.”

“[Rather than buy the test] they would be far better off seeing their GP and looking for other potential causes of their symptoms.”

i-screen’s co-founder and medical director is pathologist Dr Kim Cheah, whose linkedin profile lists him as a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA).

The company offers a suite of tests that can be bought online to “track key biomarkers in your blood before they become an issue”.

Other i-screen tests include thyroid function, testosterone, sports and sleep hormones and insulin checks.

Some tests involve a visit to one of 3000 “referral” pathology collection centres, run by pathology giants including Laverty and QML.

The limbic asked i-screen why it was marketing a test for a condition that has been dismissed by international endocrine societies as a myth.

In a statement, i-screen CEO and co-founder Amelia Thornycroft said the company was “aware of the controversy surrounding the adrenal fatigue condition”.

However, it was common for integrative and allied health professionals around the world to request the adrenocortex stress profile test as part of investigations into fatigue, she said.

Under i-screen’s model, referrals for the test are made by its integrative GP, Dr Raj Joshi.

“Dr Joshi’s position is that both elevations/depressed cortisol or DHEA-S levels can have health implications which should be further investigated in the context of their clinical history. He is an advocate of using positive lifestyle changes to balance adrenal function.”

“The i-screen platform is designed to complement the care an individual would receive from their GP”, she said.

The RCPA was unable to comment before deadline.

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