Wake Up, Philippines!

Weight and see: New alert on diet pills

Posted in Consumer, Diet, Health, Health Care, Medicine by Erineus on May 8, 2009

CONSUMERLINE By Ching M. Alano Updated May 05, 2009 12:00 AM

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Illustration by REY RIVERA

Oh, to live and diet! The battle with the bulge rages. You’ve tried every diet program on the planet, every fat-zapping procedure and diet pills there are. But so far, the only thing they’ve successfully reduced is your hard-earned money.

Wait, did we just say diet pills? Before you pop that pill into your mouth, here’s a mouthful: The Food and Drug Administration recently warned the public against weight loss products that are tainted by potentially dangerous ingredients. Many of these products claim to be “natural” or “herbal,” when in fact, they contain drugs — and in very high doses at that. Now, that’s a bitter pill to swallow.

In its new alert, FDA lists these dangerous drugs found in weight loss products (stop, look, and see if your diet pill has them):

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.

Since it made the issue public in December last year, the FDA has found 72 weight loss products, most of them imported from China, which are tainted with hidden and potentially dangerous drugs and chemicals. Among these are:

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

Fenproporex — a stimulant not approved for marketing in the US, 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, such as seizures, depression, anxiety, insomnia, aggressiveness, and suicidal thoughts among patients.

(The full list of contaminated products can be found in FDA’s web site.)

These tainted weight loss supplements on the list are not FDA-approved and available over-the-counter without a prescription, which is not to say that those that are FDA-approved or available by prescription don’t have serious side effects.

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 the following alarming data:

• 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.

On the other hand, Alli, 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. But the manufacturer calls these “treatment effects.”

Fat chance you’ll lose weight with diet pills alone. Fact is, the Mayo Clinic reports that the average weight loss for prescription-strength Xenical is only about six 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 three extra pounds lost in a year.

Certainly, diet pills are a big business in the US. According to health activist Dr. Joseph Mercola, who wouldn’t be tempted by the promise of shedding unwanted pounds without sweating — simply take a pill, then sit back and relax as the pounds melt away.

According to Mercola, “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?”

Here, you could lose a lot, warns Mercola, including your health, if you take many of these weight-loss supplements.

Dieting is much more than having a bikini-worthy figure, according to Mercola. “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.”

He gives this weighty tips:

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

This is not a diet — no need to deprive yourself, no need to count calories. In fact, if you still feel hungry after eating, you are definitely not eating according to your nutritional type.

Consider 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 — agree! Sometimes you may even need up to 90 minutes of aerobic activity every day.

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

The safe and effective way to lose weight, according to Mercola is to eat right, exercise, and address the nagging issues, big and small, in your life. You have nothing to lose but those stubborn unwanted pounds.

* * *

We’d love to hear from you. E-mail us at ching_alano@yahoo.com

View previous articles of this column.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=464177&publicationSubCategoryId=80

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