While many people are dying to lose weight, they don’t mean it literally. Sadly, that is one possibility that could happen with a weight loss program that includes daily doses of the hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This decades-old dieting program is making a comeback. As of 2010, advertisements were all over the Internet touting this weight loss program that features a hormone that comes from the urine of pregnant women.
Could Be Dangerous
The hCG weight loss program that was developed by Albert T.W. Simeons, M.D., requires that dieters eat no more than 500 calories a day and take daily injections of hCG. Unfortunately, the body cannot lose a massive amount of weight in a short time only because of limiting calories to 500 a day, says Philip A. Mackowiak, M.D., of the University of Maryland. What can lead to such massive weight loss in such a short time can be due to a condition known as thyrotoxicosis. With that condition, the body’s metabolism will speed up, causing sudden weight loss accompanied by an irregular heartbeat, sweating and irritability, says Mackowiak.
The hCG diet program went out of vogue in the 1970s but saw a resurgence in 2007 after a book called “The Weight Loss Cure ‘They’ Don’t Want You To Know About,” by Kevin Trudeau, came out. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved hCG in 1985 for infertility treatments and testosterone stimulation in men only. Dieting is an off-label use of the drug.
HCG can cost around $450 for 18 syringes and a supply of hCG to take home with you, as of 2008, according to Columbia University. While sales are high at some pharmacies and clinics, some doctors are not forthcoming that they prescribe it, according to Columbia University.
The hCG diet can have “significant metabolic consequences,” says Michael Steelman, M.D., and a former chairman of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians. The best he could say about using it for dieting is that it is controversial. In addition, no peer-review study has shown it to be effective.
It’s up to you to decide if you want to take hCG based on ads that promise an average weight loss of 26 lbs. in 26 days, with no heavy exercise, or listen to doctors who have nothing to gain by warning you against going on it. In 1976, the Federal Trade Commission required a warning label, similar to the ones cigarette companies must use, on hCG, basically stating that there is no evidence that it works.