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Hydroxycut recall and the fog surrounding it

Once upon a time, there was a weight loss aid called Ephedra. It was sourced from the plant ma huang. What it did to the human body was use alpha-2 receptors that acted as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. As with all CNS stimulants, the body adapted to it rapidly, and the longer you took it, the longer it took to get the desired effect. The only problem with doing this with Ephedra and more potent CNS drugs is the other effects. One of the most important, and the reason Ephedra was recommended for weight loss, is that it increases body temperature. And the hotter the body runs, the more calories are expended. The dangerous effect of this, however, is that as body temperature increases, so do blood pressure and heart rate.

Ephedra was recalled due to a few people that largely shouldn’t have been taking the stimulant in the first place. These people were either morbidly obese (only adding to the current obesity epidemic) and having the full work up of health problems that are listed on every bottle as exclusionary considerations, among the elderly with an already degenerating health status, or one of those that abuse anything because they want it to work faster.

Now fast forward to 2009. Hydroxycut was recalled due to causing supposed liver problems. According to the FDA, 23 cases were reported of people who were taken, or had taken the drug (and there have been countless millions of bottles sold over the last decade, ranging from when Ephedra was still in the product to today) that had elevated liver enzymes, jaundice or brown urine, and possible kidney failure.

Let’s look at that number again. Twenty-three out of how many million? As it has been said, when Ephedra was pulled, most of the noise was political. Pharmaceutical companies wanted Ephedra gone so they could begin selling it as a controlled substance and peddle their own wares; from the major-pharm bust of Alli to the now popular gastric bypass surgery. Gastric bypass is in itself a cheat, but everyone who gets it done is in for a drastic quality of life drop due to their inability to conjure any willpower. That’s a story for another day, however.

What the FDA used then was manipulation of information to spread propaganda, as it did in this case. This time around though, to avoid certain criticism, the FDA even came out and specifically said it “does not know what is in Hydroxycut that causes the problems.” Yet new reformulated versions of Hydroxycut are due out within the next few weeks.

Which leads me to a common sense conclusion: The FDA is trying to appease lobbyists and launch a negative media campaign against the supplement market for doing a better job than doctors at helping people achieve physique goals outside of surgery. People with poor genetics and under-performing bodies have taken Hydroxycut for years without problems, yet 23 people who “claim” to have taken Hydroxycut within the recommended dosages (again, people on a whole are ignorant and want results faster than possible) had liver problems.

Deja vu. So, remove anyone who has a genetic disorder with increased chance of liver or kidney problems, the extremely obese, diabetic, all the millions of adults and teenagers that are on amphetamines for attention deficit disorder, people who drink alcohol excessively or use recreational drugs and I can see a good chunk of that 23 disappearing. There are many things in this world that can cause liver problems, and you are more likely to be symptomatic from those sources than anything you take over the counter from chronic exposure.

As it always is, the FDA hasn’t got its facts straight. It’s listening to the lobbying powers that be and someone has to be a scapegoat.

4 comments so far

It seems like FDA always has things turned around. I can never tell when they are just making things up, or using a few small studies for overall conclusions. They really need to get their act together or just stop making guesses about stuff.

I’ve heard all kinds of mixed reviews about this Hydroxy cut stuff. I can’t make up my mind… or everyone else can’t and they are confusing me. It seems like a good thing, you just need to use caution in the process… like almost anything.

How many people need to die or have liver transplants to become a serious health concern. Drug induced liver injury is the number one reason drugs do not get to market and the number one reason drugs are withdrawn from the market. The problem with idiosyncratic drug induced liver injury is that it is impossible to identify who will be affected. This post is extremely misinformed and dangerous. Whoever wrote it is a fool.

Tylenol is known to be toxic to the liver if taken in excess, or consumed with alcohol. Hell, alcohol in itself is known to cause liver problems. St. John’s Wort, which is in many mood and anti-anxiety medications is contraindicated for women on birth control or estrogen replacement therapy. Aspirin can be fatal to diabetics, as Vitamin K can be fatal to those with clotting disorders. And how many people have consumed refined sugar for extended periods of time and placed their bodies into a state of constant inflammation, and in excessive amounts lead to developing type 2 diabetes?
The problem with the FDA’s assessment is that they gave no proof that Hydroxycut itself contained any chemical that caused liver failure. In fact, the hydroxycut products share ingredients with virtually every thermogenic product on the market, as well as many pre-workout energy intensifiers. The FDA’s lack of substantial evidence other than finger pointing is the issue at hand. If they released what exactly the chemical compound was in hydroxycut that caused liver failure, then we would have a different situation. The difference between Hydroxycut and all the products listed before is that the FDA knows the chemical mechanism that causes the potential health risk. They have no idea about Hydroxycut other than saying ‘these two people had it’ and using it for justifcation.
At the time the article was drafted, there was no information available to the specificity of the FDA’s claim.

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