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Dying to lose weight

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Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.
With 2 in 3 American adults overweight and 1 in 3 obese the public’s obsession with losing weight is proving not only costly but dangerous. Take the case of the popular weight-loss supplement Hydroxycut.

This month, the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers to stop using Hydroxcut, a line of herbal dietary supplements marketed as an aid to weight loss, body sculpting and athletic performance.
The warning prompted Hydroxycut’s maker Iovate Health Sciences Inc. of Ontario, Canada to recall 14 of its products.

The FDA has linked Hydroxcut to 23 cases of liver damage (including one death), four reports of seizures and 46 reports of cardiovascular events, palpitations to heart attacks – since 2002.

Despite billions spent on medical research, the pharmaceutical industry has come up virtually empty in a race to find a safe and effective weight loss solution. As a result frustrated consumers are turning to everything from radical surgery and quick fix diets, to detox regimes and increasingly dietary supplements.

In 2004 the FDA adopted more stringent rules governing the safety of dietary supplements after regulators banned the blockbuster weight loss supplement Ephedra. Ephedra was linked to more than 100 deaths and thousands of illnesses.

A 2007 law gave the FDA the power to intervene before a dietary supplement can become a public disaster.
In the aftermath of Hydroxycut’s recall a lot of people are asking whether more government regulation over dietary supplements is needed.

The Hydroxycut scare is yet another reason why consumers should use extreme caution when introducing dietary supplements into a weight loss plan. Talk with your doctor or health provider first – that conversation could save you from illness or death.

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