possible benefits, diet supplements have many risks
supplements such as Metabolife, Hydroxycut and Dexatrim offer to
help people lose weight faster but usually do not work, said Justin
Leonard, a contributor to the MSN health Web site.
usually gain back all the weight they lost while they were using
the supplements, he said.
Diet supplements are available over the counter at almost
consumers usually dont hear is that diet pills may cause health
problems. Some contain drugs that are reported by both the American
Medical Association and the Food and Drug Administration to be dangerous
if used improperly.
such weight-loss supplement, Fen-Phen, was taken off the market
in the mid-1990s because
people who used it were having strokes, heart attacks and even dying,
said Rebecca Voelker, in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
contained fenfluramine and phentermine, which is a monoamine oxidase
inhibitor, better known as an MAOI. These two drugs in combination
kept the body from controlling the amount of serotonin, which is
a hormone in blood plasma, Voelker said.
serotonin damages blood vessels and heart valves, which leads to
heart attacks and strokes, she said.
Osborn, a junior art history major, took Fen-Phen before it was
pulled off the market. A doctor prescribed it for her, not knowing
at the time that it was dangerous, she said.
didnt have any problems with it, but after I quit taking it,
it was taken off the market, Osborn said. I only took
it for a short time though. Other weight-loss supplements
contain ephedrine, which helps to speed up the users metabolism
and give them energy, according to the FDA, which has received many
negative reports associated with ephedrine.
number of (reports) have described events that have resulted in
death or other health problems such as seizures and strokes,
said Dr. E. Ratcliffe Anderson Jr. in a letter to the FDA.
of the diet pills containing ephedrine that are currently available
over-the-counter are Metabolife 356 and Hydroxycut.
have used both Fen-Phen and Metabolife, but I quit using them because
they made my heart race, said Amber Swain, a sophomore fashion
doctor never told me they could be harmful, but back then the doctors
didnt know that, she said.
Hewitt, a sophomore early childhood education major, said she has
had friends who used Metabolife.
friends) told me that they could only sleep about four hours a night,
and then they were tired during the day, she said.
of these products have Web sites that give potential customers detailed
information. They provide testimony from current customers, endorsements
from doctors and guarantees that the supplements are safe.
it is the warning labels for these products that paint a different
small print on the Metabolife 356 warning label reads, Exceeding
the recommended serving may cause serious adverse health effects
including heart attack and stroke.
down, it reads, Individuals who consume caffeine with this
product may experience serious adverse health effects. Metabolife,
however, does provide a health hotline where customers can speak
with registered nurses.
boasts that it is all-natural and many people think it is safer
than other weight-loss supplements. It contains Ma Huang, which
is nothing more than the herbal, unrefined form of ephedrine.
Hydroxycut warning label says not to take more than 100 milligrams
of ephedrine in a 24-hour period. However, each dosage of Hydroxycut
contains 334 milligrams of Ma Huang.
is really no one to regulate these pills because they are considered
nutritional supplements and not medication, said Diane Hawley,
a nursing professor.
FDA does not examine nutritional supplements and does not approve
them, so there is no research or findings available to the public
about the dangers of these supplements, Hawley said.
to the Texas Department of Health, in 1994, Texas was the first
state to investigate the links between ephedrine and the illnesses
and deaths caused by them.Michelle Menecola at the Hydroxycut consumer
hotline said, Ephedrine is not bad for you if you dont
exceed the dosage, and even if you do exceed the dosage, it will
just make you a little jittery.
ephedrine is like drinking a lot of sodas, she said.
said the dangers of ephedrine have been overstated.
could argue that anyone who experiences or has experienced side
effects with ephedrine shouldnt be taking it, he said.
said in the case of ephedrine-related deaths, the user was probably
taking too much and not following the directions.
his Web site, Leonard said that the only way to lose weight permanently
is through healthy eating and exercise.
weight-loss drugs containing ephedrine help to speed up the persons
metabolism, their metabolism returns to its normal rate when they
stop taking the drug, he said.
said people should see their doctors before taking weight-loss supplements
or beginning a diet.
doctor can also determine what weight-loss program will be effective
for you, said Leonard.