(NaturalNews) After tens of millions of doses of Hydroxycut were taken by consumers, one person died. This, along with reports of a few dozen liver-related side effects, caused the FDA to push for an industry-wide recall of virtually all Hydroxycut products. The thinking behind the warning? The risk of side effects is very low, but the FDA doesn't believe consumers should be exposed to such risks.
Not from a dietary supplement, anyway. When it's from a vaccine or a pharmaceutical, such risks are deemed "acceptable" by the FDA. Remember the outcry over the COX-2 inhibitor drug Vioxx and the testimony by Dr. David Graham of the FDA who calculated the drug killed over 60,000 Americans? That drug was voted "safe" by an FDA panel even after its own manufacturer voluntarily recalled it from the market!
When it comes to pharmaceuticals, you see, killing 60,000 Americans is no big deal. But when a dietary supplement is linked to a single death, that's more than enough for the FDA to spring into action with its spin machine to destroy the credibility of the dietary supplement in question.
The same thing happened with ephedra (ma huang), a perfectly safe Traditional Chinese Medicine that's been safely used for over 5,000 years in China. It's an important ingredient in all sorts of Chinese Medicine formulas, including anti-viral formulas that cave save lives during a pandemic. But thanks to the FDA, ephedra is now illegal to sell or prescribe in the United States, and anyone prescribing it to patients can be arrested and threatened with being shut down and put out of business.
Powerful pills + compromised health = bad combo
So why are weight loss pills linked with patient deaths at all? It's simple: The few people dying from these pills are almost certainly health-compromised individuals with compromised liver or heart function who over-dose on the weight loss pills in a misguided, desperate attempt to drop some pounds.
This is what happened with ephedra: Some pill-popping consumers overdid the dosage, thinking "more is better," over-stimulating their cardiovascular system and dying from a heart attack (which was no doubt imminent in the first place). Shoveling snow in the driveway probably would have triggered the same event.
In the case of Hydroxycut, the people who showed liver problems (there were only a few dozen even reported) no doubt suffered from serious liver problems even before they started taking the weight loss pills. They almost certainly weren't taking a full complement of protective herbs, superfoods and nutritional supplements that protect the liver (such as dandelion and yellow dock, for example). Without a healthy liver to begin with, the extra dose of caffeine in Hydroxycut likely pushed them into the zone of liver problems.
It's all so typically American. Everything in America is extreme, it seems: Reality TV, flavored snacks, sugary breakfast cereals, cosmetic surgery, money management and of course weight loss. American culture has no practical familiarity with the phrase, "all things in moderation," and its people tend to take dieting efforts to the extreme. After all, what else would you call the "48-Hour Hollywood Diet," which promises obscene weight loss in just two days drinking the world's most over-priced fruit juice?
Then again, the Hydroxycut formulation isn't exactly the most nutritionally-oriented approach to weight loss, either. It's heavy on the caffeine stimulants side, sort of like Red Bull in a pill with a few herbal ingredients thrown in to round out the formula. Personally, I wouldn't touch Hydroxycut -- or any other weight loss product loaded with stimulants. But neither do I think the death of one person from taking the product is justification for an industry-wide recall.
Aspirin and NSAIDs are thousands of times more dangerous
Common painkillers like aspirin, by the way, kill 16,500 Americans each year, and the FDA has never made any effort whatsoever to recall the category of NSAID drugs (which, like Hydroxycut, don't require a prescription). As explained on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSAID#Adverse_e...)
The widespread use of NSAIDs has meant that the adverse effects of these relatively safe drugs have become increasingly prevalent. The two main adverse drug reactions (ADRs) associated with NSAIDs relate to gastrointestinal (GI) effects and renal [kidney] effects of the agents. These effects are dose-dependent, and in many cases severe enough to pose the risk of ulcer perforation, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, and death, limiting the use of NSAID therapy. An estimated 10-20% of NSAID patients experience dyspepsia, and NSAID-associated upper gastrointestinal adverse events are estimated to result in 103,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths per year in the United States, and represent 43% of drug-related emergency visits. Many of these events are avoidable; a review of physician visits and prescriptions estimated that unnecessary prescriptions for NSAIDs were written in 42% of visits.
Did you get all that? 103,000 emergency hospitalizations! 16,500 dead Americans a year! And is there a recall pending on these over-the-counter medications? Of course not. The FDA is too busy chasing down marketers of diet pills and nutritional supplements to bother with any serious safety efforts regarding Big Pharma's pills. That's why anything made by Big Pharma seems to get a free pass with the FDA, while anything made by somebody else gets subjected to extra scrutiny.
Of course, some critics complain that the FDA doesn't "review" or "approve" dietary supplements like Hydroxycut and can only enforce safety guidelines after they're on the market. But that whole argument assumes the FDA is interested in safety in the first place, which it isn't. For example, the FDA hasn't bothered to recall or ban aspartame, MSG, sodium nitrite, artificial food colors that cause hyperactivity in children, etc. If it was interested in safety, those would be some of the first things to consider banning (or at least warning people about).
In fact, just a few months ago, the FDA went out of its way to re-recommend mercury-contaminated fish to expectant mothers -- an astonishing act that earned it sharp reprisals from EPA scientists who called the FDA scientists complete morons (paraphrasing). (http://www.ewg.org/newsclip/Newsweek-Smackdo...)
Furthermore, the FDA doesn't review Big Pharma's drug ads at all, meaning that drug companies can market their highly-dangerous prescription medications using whatever outrageous claims they can dream up, with virtually zero FDA oversight.
Be wise about choosing any weight loss product
None of this, of course, means that weight loss products are good for you. The weight loss industry is, indeed, populated with a few charlatans -- on both the supplement and pharmaceutical side of the equation. On the supplement side, the "Stupid Weight Loss Product of the Year Award" goes to SlimFast, in my opinion, which is basically a sugar milkshake containing very low-cost vitamins. The runner-up award goes to Ensure, which is similarly unimpressive. Amazingly, Americans funnel into pharmacies and grocery stores and actually buy this stuff, somehow envisioning they're going to lose lots of body fat and look fit and trim by chugging sugary milkshakes.
And this gets to the problem with dietary supplements in the USA: The problem is not merely the products themselves but the consumers looking for a quick weight loss solution who will try anything out of desperation. It's the "fix me with a magic bullet" mentality, and it seems more pronounced in America than anywhere else.
I'd be curious to find out exactly how many pills of Hydroxycut were being taken by the person who later died. My guess is that the dosage was outrageously high, beyond an amount any reasonable person would think of taking (and no doubt far more than the recommended dosage on the bottle).
You gotta love America: Fix my brain with psych drugs! Pump up my breasts with silicone! Inject my face with botulism! And let's all lose weight by killing ourselves with stimulants!
At some point, we have to say that part of the blame for abusing nutritional supplements rests with the users. When the bottle says to take two pills and the consumer guzzles down TEN pills, that's a user problem, not a product problem. The same is true with pharmaceuticals: When a patient greatly exceeds the prescribed dosage and ends up dying from the overdose, that's as much the consumer's fault as anybody's.
No magic pills
I'm no supporter of Hydroxycut, but the way. I've never recommended the product, and I've always thought it was a kind of gimmicky weight loss pill purchased by mainstream consumers who don't know much about nutrition or weight loss (sort of the same group that buys SlimFast). So the loss of Hydroxycut from the marketplace is no big loss to the health of Americans. But lacking this particular product, the "instant weight loss" crowd is simply going to gravitate to another product -- dietary, prescription or otherwise -- and end up in much the same situation, overdosing on pills out of desperation.
I'd like to make a blunt statement to all the Americans who have been taking Hydroxycut: There is no magic pill that will counteract all the milk, cheese, processed meat, sugars, sodas and white flour you might have been eating! The reason you're fat is because you're eating a really atrocious diet. Snap out of it! Choose healthy foods for a change and you don't need Hydroxycut or any other weight loss stimulant product.
No, I have no financial ties with GHC Health. Over the years, though, I have come to trust Ed Group's product formulation expertise and product quality. I now regard his product line as the best in the industry for cleansing and healthy weight loss.
In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.