The hCG myth

Study upon study has shown that hCG is no more effective for weight loss than calorie restriction alone.

by Dr. Tara Peyman — 

If you have heard about the hCG diet, or know of people using hCG injections for weight loss, be sure to check all the facts about this treatment before paying for a program.

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone released by the embryo and placenta in pregnant women. During pregnancy, hCG helps to maintain the uterine lining by increasing progesterone production. It is also responsible for the nausea of morning sickness that can occur in pregnancy.

In addition to occurring during pregnancy, hCG is also secreted by some cancer tumors. This hormone can be used to induce ovulation in the ovaries, and increases testosterone production.

So, why are some people claiming that hCG can be used for weight loss? The primary reason for the recent hCG fad is Kevin Trudeau, a controversial author and salesman without any medical training, who has advertised hCG injections as part of an expensive weight loss program.

Trudeau released a book in 2007 entitled The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You To Know About. In his marketing of the book, he tells us that his weight loss program is easy to do, can be done at home, and that you can eat whatever you want after the program, without gaining weight.

Human chorionic gonadotropin was first promoted as a weight loss aid in the 1950s by Dr. Albert T. Simeons, who stated that hCG would help burn stored fat, when combined with a 500 calorie-per-day diet. Trudeau claimed that this “miracle cure” was kept from the public until now. The truth is that since Simeons attempted to convince people about hCG, there have been approximately 50 years of extensive, double-blind research studies performed to test its efficacy.

Study upon study has shown that hCG is no more effective for weight loss than calorie restriction alone. In addition, the 500 calorie-per-day diet originally promoted by Simeons results in dangerous muscle wasting; much of the weight lost with a diet this restrictive would be from muscle loss.

When people read Trudeau’s book, they find that the weight loss plan is actually rather complex, as it involves severe dietary restrictions and requires daily injections of a drug that is not FDA (Federal Drug Administration) approved for weight loss.

Because of his false claims, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged Trudeau with misrepresenting the contents of his book. He was previously charged by the FTC in 1998 for unsubstantiated statements about his infomercial products.

The FTC continues to enforce that anyone who advertises hCG as a weight loss drug must clearly state to the consumer that hCG has not been approved by the FDA for weight loss, and that “there is no substantial evidence that hCG increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or normal distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restrictive diets.” The FDA requires similar statements to be displayed in any advertising or prescribing of hCG to the public.

The facts are clear: hCG has been investigated by the scientific community, and the evidence leans overwhelming against its efficacy. Moreover, there is not enough safety data to know whether hCG may have long-term side effects or health risks. Despite these facts, it is still promoted by salespeople and medical professionals who can make money by selling the program.

There are so many weight loss trends on the market, it is important to be fully informed about the safety and effectiveness of all products or treatments before choosing a weight loss plan. With tried and true methods, you can achieve great results without worrying about side effects or long-term risks.

There are safe, natural products and methods available that are effective for weight loss, while also improving overall health and energy. Take the time to find the right program for you.

References:

Asher, W.L., Harper, H.W. Effect of human chorionic gonadotropin on weight loss, hunger and feeling of well-being. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 26:211–218, 1973.

Bosch, B., et al. Human chorionic gonadotropin and weight loss. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. South African Medical Journal 77:185–189, 1990.

Frank, B.W. The use of chorionic gonadotropin hormone in the treatment of obesity. A double-blind study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 14:133–136, 1964.

FTC: Marketer Kevin Trudeau violated prior court order. FTC news release, Sept 14, 2007.

Greenway, F.L., Bray, G.A. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the treatment of obesity: a critical assessment of the Simeons method. West Journal of Medicine 127:461–463, 1977.

Lijesen, G.K., et al. The effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in the treatment of obesity by means of the Simeons therapy: a criteria-based meta-analysis. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 49:237–243, 1995.

Miller, R., Schneiderman, L.J. A clinical study of the use of human chorionic gonadotropin in weight reduction. Journal of Family Practice 4:445–448, 1977.

Simeons, A.T.W. The action of chorionic gonadotropin in the obese. Lancet 2:946-947, 1954.

Stein, M.R., et al. Ineffectiveness of human chorionic gonadotropin in weight reduction: a double-blind study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 29:940–948, 1976.

Trudeau, K. The Weight Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About. Alliance Publishing, 2007.

Young, R.L., et al. Chorionic gonadotropin in weight control. A double-blind crossover study. JAMA 236:2495–2497, 1976.

 

Dr. Tara Peyman is a licensed naturopathic doctor who has developed comprehensive naturopathic programs for weight loss, mood disorders, smoking cessation and anti-aging. She practices at East Valley Naturopathic Doctors in Mesa, Ariz. 480-985-0000 and at Naturopathic Health Associates in Tempe, Ariz. 480-456-0402, www.DrTaraPeyman.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 27, Number , December 2008/January 2009.

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