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The Journal of Medical Toxicology Reviews Dangerous Diet Agents
The recent approval of lorcaserin by the FDA for the treatment of obesity, should serve as a
reminder that nearly all weight loss agents are associated with adverse effects. A recent review
of weight loss agents in the June issue of the Journal of Medical Toxicology highlights that
there are certain weight loss agents with the potential to produce serious harm or even death.
Phoenix, Arizona (PRWEB) July 05, 2012 -- The Journal of Medical Toxicology (JMT), the official journal of
the American College of Medical Toxicology (ACMT), highlights a review of dieting agentsthat can be
dangerous and even deadly. According to the article, by Drs. May Yen and Michelle Burns-Ewald from
Children’s Hospital Boston, “In 2010 it is estimated that 75 million U.S. dieters spent nearly 61 billion dollars
on weight loss products. Surveys have shown that 37% of children in grades 3-6 have already tried to lose
weight with 6.9% having demonstrated dieting to the extreme.” Several dangerous agents are reviewed in the
article, including caffeine, ipecac, laxatives, and thyroid hormone.
“While we all know the epidemic of obesity is being fought every day, many don’t realize the potential
dangerous and even deadly effects of substances used for weight loss. And many can easily be ordered on the
Internet,” said Editor-in-Chief, Leslie R. Dye, MD.
For example, fenfluramine, one component of the infamous “fen-phen” combination, was removed from the
market in 1997 after its association with significant cardiac valvular disease in its users. According to Lewis
Nelson, M.D., the president of ACMTand one of the FDA panelists who recently debated the safety of the new
weight loss agent lorcaserin (Belviq), “The mechanism of action of lorcaserin is similar to fenfluramine raising
safety concerns as this newly approved medication becomes widely prescribed.”
Other topics discussed in this review include stimulants like ephedrine and caffeine, and metabolic agents such
as thyroid hormone and dinitrophenol. These agents are particularly dangerous in obese patients who often
suffer from multiple underlying medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. These and other fad diets
are often unstudied for either their efficacy or safety, and serious adverse effects may be missed or
misinterpreted without systematic evaluation.
Medical toxicologists, who are physicians with expertise in the diagnosis and management of adverse effects of
medications, strongly warn against the use of unproven therapies. This is particularly true of those therapies that
have a poor safety history or are similar in action to these medications.
ACMT is a professional, nonprofit association of physicians with recognized expertise in medical toxicology.
The College is dedicated to advancing the science and practice of medical toxicology through a variety of
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American College of Medical Toxicology
Online Web 2.0 Version
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