Weight loss pills: useless or even outright dangerous

January 29, 2009 by  

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Not only are we wasting billions of dollars on “quack” weight loss products, we are actually endangering our health each time we take them. This is according to a report by a nutritional expert published in the British Journal of Medicine.

Globally every year, obese people waste billions of pounds on food products that ‘imply’ that they aid weight loss, but are totally ineffective,” according to Professor Lean from the University of Glasgow. It is estimated that Americans spent more than $35 billion dollars on weight loss products in 2000.

However, most diet pills may not only be useless, they may actually be dangerous. This latest report warns American consumers against illegal weight loss pills coming from South America. These pills may actually contain active ingredients not declared on the labels. These ingredients, which may include amphetamines, benzodiazepines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, diuretics, laxatives, thyroid hormones and other unidentified substances, may dampen the appetite but can have some serious adverse side effects. The report cites two cases of patients who learned this the hard way:

Case #1:

A 26 year-old woman suffered from intermittent chest pains, palpitations, headaches and insomnia for two years. She consulted her doctor numerous times over the two-year period for these unexplained symptoms. Her urine tested positive for amphetamines and benzodiazepines, and both fenproporex and chlordiazepoxide were present in her pills. Her symptoms disappeared after she stopped taking the imported pills.

Case #2:

A 38 year-old man tested positive for amphetamines after an occupational urine screening test and was suspended from work. Both fenproporex and fluoxetine were detected in his imported pills. While he was taking the pills he also experienced insomnia and palpitations, symptoms which disappeared after he stopped taking the pills.

In the US, amphetamine-based appetite suppressants have been banned by the FDA. However, they are easily available in many parts of the world and are sold over the Internet. Sometimes they are sold under different names, e.g. as dietary or nutritional supplements or performance enhancers.

Just this week, the US FDA warned against the use of Venom HYPERDRIVE 3.0, a dietary supplement which contains sibutramine, a compound that “can substantially increase blood pressure and heart rate (pulse), and may present a significant risk for people with a history of heart disease, heart failure, irregular heart beats or stroke.

This is so unfair because many people are taking diet pills to loose weight in their quest to reduce their cardiovascular risks and improve their quality of life. Unfortunately, these pills actually present serious dangers to people’s cardiovascular health.

In the European Union, a new EU Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices will finally protect consumers from being tricked this way.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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