In the ever growing catalog of radical diet fads, the New York Times recently reported on one that seems especially extreme. More and more women are paying top dollar for a fertility hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG. The trendy new “diet” requires regular self-administered HCG injections and a restricted calorie intake. The science behind the diet is flimsy and by no means universally accepted and the FDA will not stand behind any of its purported weight loss benefits. However, a recent write-up in Marie Claire says many woman are seeing positive results.
Like many unapproved and scientifically dubious weight loss “potions,” HCG may also carry some serious health risks. The New York Times reports that the FDA recently received a report of a patient on the diet who suffered a pulmonary embolism. A spokesman for the agency says the hormone carries a risk for blood clots. The FDA recently put out an article warning against fraudulent weight-loss supplements.
HCG is produced in the body naturally when a woman becomes pregnant. Supporters say when it’s used synthetically for weight loss, the hormone essentially tricks your body into thinking it’s pregnant and triggers rapid fat burning for energy to nourish the fetus (which doesn’t actually exist).
If the idea of tricking your own body – or regularly injecting yourself – makes you a little uneasy, you’re not alone. Although HCG has been used medically for decades to treat infertility, many doctors warn that much is still unknown about possible adverse effects. The University of Maryland Medical Center put out a study in 2010 indicating HCG may lead to thyrotoxicosis, a dangerous condition caused by elevated thyroid levels in the blood.
Others say the hormone diet simply doesn’t work. They say any weight loss resulting from the HCG diet is the result of a tightly restricted 500 calorie/day diet and has nothing to do with the hormone’s presence in the body.
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