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WSPA has issued an important clarification to news stories suggesting that ‘Bear bile could help to prevent arrhythmia in heart attack sufferers.’ The story, based on a press release issued by Imperial College, has been published internationally by several leading media, with misleading headlines suggesting it is bear bile that can help treat abnormal heart rhythms. In reality, the study only considered the effects of synthetic Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA).
“The UDCA in question was created in a laboratory, not extracted from the gall bladder of a bear! The study presents an undoubtedly exciting result, offering great hope for patients at risk of heart disease, but it should not be tainted by the tremendous suffering associated with bear bile.” says Dave Eastham, Campaign Leader, WSPA, “In fact, the synthetic UDCA used in Dr. Gorelik’s study is already widely used as an alternative to bear bile across Asia – providing a more ethical alternative to bile cruelly extracted from caged bears or those killed in the wild.”
The paper, referenced at the website of the Imperial College, explicitly begins with the sentence: A synthesised compound which is also found in bear bile could help prevent disturbances in the heart's normal rhythm, according to research published today in the journal Hepatology by a team from Imperial College London.
When contacted by WSPA, Dr. Julia Gorelik, the senior author of the study, was quick to clarify emphatically, “In our work we used synthetic UDCA. We do not recommend using bear bile.”
For the grim reality of the cruelty suffered by bears in the bear bile industry, please see our page on Bear Farming.