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After many reports of personal injury and one of wrongful death, the FDA finally has taken the unusual step of advising consumers not to buy and use a popular dietary supplement.

In all candor, this is no srprise.

This long over-due action came only after the FDA received numerous adverse event reports about Hydroxycut. The FDA always wants to be sure that a product is truly a killer before offending the FDA‘s public health protection team by issuing a warning that will truly protect the public before scores are serious injured or killed..The death occurred in a 19-year old who suffered liver failure after taking Hydroxycut, and 23 others users experienced severe liver damage. Hydroxycut has also caused a wide range of other personal injuries, including seizures, cardiovascular disorders, jaundice, itching, and rhabdomyolysis, a form of muscle damage.

These dangers are certainly nothing new. The young man’s death occurred in 2007. In 2005, three physicians at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation had sent a letter to the Annals Of Internal Medicine describing 2 cases of severe hepatoxicity (liver damage) in young men who had used Hydroxycut, which contains stimulants such as caffeine and guarana. Fortunately, those men recovered.

Because Hydroxycut has been available in stores such as GNC, many people have assumed that it’s safe and possibly even effective as a weight loss aid. Among Hydroxycut users, however, reviews are decidedly mixed. For many users, the results have ranged from useless to harmful.

Hydroxycut is actually not just one product. It’s a large group of supplements made by a Canadian manufacturer named MuscleTech, and the FDA warning lists 14 different products to avoid. MuscleTech’s marketing machine claims that the company’s products will enable users to lose weight, gain strength, increase energy, turn on the anabolic machinery, and maybe even walk on water.

And unlike many other weight-loss products, MuscleTech has not focused its marketing for Hydroxycut exclusively on the type of weight-loss candidates who might appear on a TV show such as The Biggest Loser.

In addition to that group of potential customers, Hydroxycut has specifically targeted bodybuilders, a supposedly healthy group of people, with claims of stunningly quick weight losses that will get them looking their “shredded” best for competitions.

In the February 2009 issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine, MuscleTech purchased a 6-page ad, which it called a “Special Report”, to tout the alleged benefits of Hydroxycut Hardcore, a version of Hydroxycut made for serious bodybuilders.

The ad describes a 5-Step program that will peel away extra pounds. One “Before and After” set of photographs shows a bodybuilder who allegedly lost “a staggering” 53 pounds in 14 weeks, even though he didn’t appear to be carrying any extra weight in the “before” picture.

The ad also explains just how Hydroxycut Hardcore achieves its miraculous effects: “Hydroxycut Hardcore is designed to block adenosine receptors to help increase NE, the key fat-burning hormone, by 40%.” The ad also says that Hydroxycut Hardcore works by “blocking phosphodesterase”. So, the ad claims that Hydroxycut is interfering with at least 2 normal body functions, and trying to trick the body can lead to serious health problems.

A website that sells the product targets bodybuilders with this ego-building disclaimer: Hydroxycut Hardcore isn’t for your mom who wants to drop a few pounds. It isn’t for your girlfriend who wants to “get toned.” And it definitely isn’t for your squash-playing brother who wants to “look athletic. Hydroxycut Hardcore is for you and YOU ONLY.”

Because of the weak regulations that govern dietary supplements, the FDA lacks the authority to issue an outright ban on Hydroxycut, but this warning should make consumers more aware of the dangers associated with Hydroxycut and with many dietary supplements. The claim that something is “All Natural” doesn’t mean that it’s safe. Nature makes many poisons, and nature never creates the strange combinations of ingredients found in these products.

The FDA‘s warning against Hydroxycut, which held a large share of the market for weight loss pills, presents a big opportunity for other companies to promote new diet scams. Muscle & Fitness is already full of ads for fat burners that are probably just as dangerous as Hydroxycut, and ads for a diet drug called Alli stress that it’s “FDA approved”, even though it often has very unpleasant effects.

Hydroxycut and other diet pills don’t work, as we know well from the hundreds of cases we participated in against the manufacturers of Metabolife. Metabolife caused serious personal injuries and deaths from heart attacks and strokes. If Hydroxycut has harmed you or someone you know, contact me to learn if legal action can compensate you for your injury. And be sure to ask us about Metabolife; we see Hydroxycut as a virtually identical abuse of human and health rights based on fraud.

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Richard Alexander