How Much Should A Healthy 14 Year Old Boy Weigh Hydroxycitric Acid, Bad Science and Liver Failure

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Hydroxycitric Acid, Bad Science and Liver Failure

Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is a likely cause of liver damage and liver failure in Hydroxycut users. Iovate Health Sciences USA Inc voluntarily recalled 14 Hydroxycut products after the FDA announced on May 1, 2009 that it had received 23 reports of users suffering liver damage, some of which was severe enough to require a liver transplant . A 19-year-old boy who used Hydroxycut died of liver failure.

The fourteen products now recalled are Hydroxycut:

  • Regular, immediate release tablets
  • Fast-release caffeine-free caplets
  • Hardcore Liquid Caplets
  • Max Liquid Caplets
  • Packets of decaffeinated drinks
  • Hardcore Drink Packs (Ignition Stix)
  • Max Drink Packets
  • Liquid Shots
  • Hardcore RTD (Ready to Drink)
  • Max Aqua Shed
  • 24
  • Carb Control
  • Naturally
  • Regular drink packages

Iovate marketed the products as a weight loss aid, to promote fluid loss, and as a means of increasing energy and burning fat. Some products were intended for bodybuilders who are trying to lose fat so that their muscles look more “cut”, that is, sharply defined.

The inclusion of hydroxycitric acid in a product is a story of bad science and bad law that has tied the hands of drug safety regulators.

Hydroxycitric acid is a variant of citric acid found in Garcinia gummi-gutta, a yellowish pumpkin-shaped fruit native to Indonesia. Its extract and bark are used in Indian traditional medicine and as a curry spice. Early studies in rats showed that hydroxycitric acid has an impressive ability to block the conversion of carbohydrates to fat while suppressing appetite.

If it works in rats, it must work in humans, so supplement manufacturers have added it to their products. They failed to take the most basic steps the FDA requires for prescription drugs, clinical trials to demonstrate safety and efficacy in humans.

Other researchers have done their homework. A 1998 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that when tested against a placebo, an inert substance, HCA did not produce more weight loss than a placebo. A 2000 study found that HCA had no effect on reducing hunger or increasing satiety, the feeling of fullness.

It works for rats. It’s not for humans. Supplement manufacturers left HCA in their products and did not change their claims.

In 2005 Annals of internal medicine reported two cases of liver damage due to the use of Hydroxycut products containing HCA. Since then, more reports have continued to appear in the medical literature linking dietary supplements containing hydroxycitric acid to severe liver damage.

Safe for rats. Dangerous to humans. Supplement manufacturers left it in their products and did not change their claims.

The FDA’s hands were tied. Since the passage of the Hatch-Harkin Act in 1994, making dietary supplements a $24 billion business in the U.S., the FDA has had no regulatory authority over supplements coming to market. The review cannot require human testing for safety and efficacy — the very actions the agency routinely performs with all prescription drugs. The agency can only inspect manufacturers on-site and monitor products once they are on the shelves.

They followed the applications, and in May they did what the law allows them to do. They announced reports of 23 cases of liver damage, including one fatality. They sent a “Dear Doctor” letter to healthcare professionals across the country, calling Hydroxycut products a serious risk to public health.

The FDA had solid science and facts on its side. Iovate has withdrawn its products from the market.

People who have used Hydroxycut products and experience symptoms they believe are related to its use should contact their healthcare provider as soon as possible.

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