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FDA Warns Consumers about Weight Loss Products

diet pill, weight loss productsThe FDA has issued a new alert about weight loss products tainted by potentially dangerous ingredients. Many of the products claim to be "natural" or "herbal" but include drugs, sometimes in very high doses.

Drugs found in weight loss products include:

• Sibutramine (a controlled substance)
• Phenytoin (an anti-seizure medication)
• Phenolphthalein (a solution used in chemical experiments and a suspected cancer-causing agent)
• Bumetanide (a diuretic)

Altogether, the FDA has found 72 tainted weight loss products since it first brought the issue to public attention last December.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
It’s a tempting proposition for many. Take a diet pill, then sit back and relax as the pounds melt away. For the 15 percent of American adults who say they’ve used weight-loss supplements, many probably thought “why not”? What could they lose other than the money to buy them and possibly some extra pounds?

As it turns out, you could lose quite a bit, including your health, if you take many of these weight-loss supplements.

So far the FDA has identified 72 diet pills -- most of them imported from China -- that are tainted with hidden and potentially dangerous drugs and chemicals.

You can view a full list of the contaminated products on the FDA’s Web site. Many of them claim to be “natural” or “herbal” yet contain chemicals and drugs such as:

• Cetilistat: an experimental obesity drug that can cause serious health risks in certain populations.

• Fenproporex: a stimulant not approved for marketing in the United States, which can cause increased blood pressure, uncontrollable movements or shaking, palpitations, arrhythmia and possibly sudden death.

• Fluoxetine: the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Prozac, a prescription antidepressant, which can increase the risk of suicidal thinking and suicide in children, adolescents, and young adults.

• Furosemide: the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Lasix, a potent diuretic that can cause profound dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, leading to dehydration, seizures, GI problems, kidney damage, lethargy, collapse and coma.

• Rimonabant: the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Zimulti, which has not been approved in the United States because of increased risk of neurological and psychiatric side effects -- seizures, depression, anxiety, insomnia, aggressiveness, and suicidal thoughts among patients.

All of the tainted weight loss supplements on the list are available over-the-counter without a prescription and are not FDA-approved, but please don’t misconstrue this information. While this new finding underscores the importance of knowing where your supplements (whether for weight loss or any other purpose) come from, diet pills that are FDA-approved or available by prescription have also been linked to serious side effects.

The Risks of “Approved” Diet Pills

Two of the most well-known diet drugs in the United States are Xenical, a prescription-only drug, and its non-prescription version Alli. Unpublished studies on Xenical have revealed concerning data, including:

• Xenical increases the precursor markers to colon cancer by 60 percent in rats.
• When eating a high- fat diet and taking Xenical, the cancer risk increased 2.4 fold.
• Fat-soluble vitamin E depletion, due to Xenical's fat-blocking action, raises the risk of colon cancer even further.
• Recorded adverse reactions to Xenical include: 39 cases of increased abnormal blood thinning, several cases of bleeding episodes, 10 hospitalizations (four with life-threatening reactions), and one death.
• Dangerous thinning of the blood can occur in people taking drugs like Warfarin (an anti-coagulant), or who suffer from vitamin K deficiency.

Alli, meanwhile, which blocks the absorption of about 25 percent of consumed fat, can also result in loose stools, hard-to-control bowel movements, and gas with an oily discharge. The manufacturer calls these “treatment effects.”

These are some serious, not to mention embarrassing, risks all for a very small benefit. Though these drugs may help you lose weight, it will likely be only a few pounds more than you would lose with diet and exercise alone.

In fact, the Mayo Clinic reported the average weight loss for prescription-strength Xenical is only about 6 pounds greater than diet and exercise alone after one year. Since Alli is half the strength of Xenical, they reasoned Alli could conceivably result in an average of just 3 extra pounds lost in a year.

The REAL Way to Lose Weight

How to lose weight safely and effectively is an urgent and relevant issue given that two-thirds of the U.S. population is already overweight, and a recent study found it’s possible that nearly every American adult could be overweight by 2048.

Of course, maintaining a healthy body weight is about so much more than looking good in a bikini -- it’s about having more energy, fighting disease, protecting your heart and, above all else, choosing a lifestyle that will support your entire body and your health.

A drug simply will not provide these benefits, and neither will a crash diet.

Dieting is actually a consistent predictor of future weight gain. On any given diet, people initially lose 5 percent to 10 percent of their weight, but then they gain it back, often with some additional pounds as well.

This is because they’re not addressing two key aspects to weight loss: emotions and your nutritional type.

As anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight knows, making up your mind to do it is half the battle (in fact, it’s probably 99 percent of the battle for many). This is why tools like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) are your friend and ally when it comes to losing weight.

They help you to nip emotional eating in the bud by dealing with your feelings at the energetic level and creating a new relationship with food. They also help you release self-sabotaging behaviors like avoiding exercise.

That is one step in the weight-loss equation. From there, it’s just a matter of changing your lifestyle in the following ways:

1. Tailor your diet to your nutritional type. These are the foods that are right for your biochemistry, and these are the foods that will push your body toward its ideal weight. (By the way, these foods may be high in fat, high in carbs, heavy on protein or heavy on veggies, it all depends on YOU).

Eating right for your nutritional type is not a “diet.” In fact, if you still feel hungry after eating you are definitely not eating according to your nutritional type. There is no food deprivation, no counting calories and definitely no starving yourself -- just eating plenty of healthy foods that are right for you.

2. View exercise as a drug. When you’re trying to lose weight, a casual walk here and there is not going to cut it. Many studies find that exercising for one hour, five days a week is actually needed, and I tend to agree with that. Sometimes you may even need up to 90 minutes of aerobic activity every day.

There is also strong compelling evidence that strength training and high-intensity anaerobic interval training may be especially effective for weight loss.

So there you have it: eat right, exercise, and address your emotions -- and that is typically all it takes. If you have addressed these three components and are still struggling to lose weight, there are some safe, natural supplements available that can help support normal weight loss and weight maintenance functions, and the one I recommend is called BioTHIN.

Again, this is not a magic bullet that you can take and expect to do all the work for you. Rather, it may help to jumpstart your weight loss and harmonizes with the way you were designed to lose weight -- with overall healthy living.

+ Sources and References