How Diet Pills Can Destroy Your Health

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How diet pills and weight loss pills can destroy your heart, liver and other organs.

Americans spend $50 billion on diet pills and weight loss products per year, $6 billion on fraudulent diet pills. Some are prescription and some are over-the-counter diet pills. And they can destroy your health, yet doctors continue to prescribe diet pills knowing that they most likely do cause damage to your health.

Banned Diet Pills and Heart Damage

Phentermine has been and still is the most-prescribed diet pill, first approved by the FDA in 1959, and becoming available in the early 1970s. Since it was first approved in 1959, almost no clinical studies have been done on Phentermine itself. Phentermine is a generic name with brand names Adipex-P, Ionamin, Zantryl, Obenix, Oby-Cap and Teramine.

Fen-phen became a popular combination of phentermine with fenfluramine or dexfenfluramine (Redux) in 1992 until it was pulled from the market in 1997 after 24 cases of heart valve problems were found.

In 1997, the Mayo clinic, in conjunction with a group of doctors at a Fargo, ND clinic, conducted a study with 24 women who had taken a combination of fenfluramine and phentermine (fen-phen). The average weight of these women was 211 pounds (96 kg) with an average age of 44. At the start of the weight loss study, all of these women were free of cardiovascular disease. At the end of the 12 month study, it was found that the women had clinically significant valvular heart disease. Since then, studies have found that 30% of the people who took fenfluramine or dexfenfluramine had abnormal heart valves. Fenfluramine and dexfenfluramine were taken off the market in 1997.

Banned and Not-So-Banned Diet Pills

Phen-pro. Today there is a new cocktail mixing phentermine with one of the following anti-depressants; Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, Trazadone or Effexor. The reason stated is that phentermine used alone stops working after a few weeks, so these other drugs are needed to make the weight loss pill work longer. These anti-depressant drugs have their own side effects, including being addictive.

Ephedra (ma huang) was another popular diet and weight loss pill. The FDA banned Ephedra in 2004 for diet pill and weight loss usage due to hundreds of reports of stroke, heart attack and some deaths. The law concerning ephedra and ephedrine is a very confusing subject. It is illegal to buy in the US, yet you can find it all over the Internet sold as diet pills and weight loss pills. Some of it is real ephedra and some is not.

Hydroxycut was another popular diet pill. In May of 2009, the FDA urged consumers to stop taking 14 hydroxycut products after one death and 23 serious liver injuries due to this product. The company, Iovate Health Sciences voluntarily recalled the products. One month later in June 2009, Iovate reformulated Hydroxycut and it is now back on the market.

So-called Natural Diet and Weight Loss Pills

With some of the diet pills and weight loss pills, you can take a drug test and fail because they will show traces of amphetamines and you could lose your job.

The FDA recently has become concerned about tainted diet pills from Brazil and Peru. People reported becoming sick and fainting and being taken to the hospital. Other so-called natural weight loss pills, along with amphetamines, had the diuretic bumetanide in it. For a list of the FDA list of tainted diet pills, see the link at the end of this article.

More Health Risks From Diet Pills

Rimonabant and Acomplia from Sanofi-Aventis are new diet pills since 2007. FDA studies found that these diet pills caused a risk of depression, anxiety, irritability, panic attacks, insomnia, aggression and suicide in people taking these drugs. These drugs were never approved for sale in the US but were approved for sale in European countries until they were pulled from that market in 2008. Yet you can buy these drugs all over the Internet.

The Fat Blockers

In June 2009, Alli (orlistat), another popular non-prescription weight loss drug and the prescription version Xenical have been reported to the FDA as potentially harmful to the liver. Between 1999 and 2008, there have been 32 reports of serious liver injury including six cases of liver failure. The investigation continues into this; if you take one of these diet pills and have weakness or fatigue, fever, brown urine or jaundice (yellowing of the skin), tell your doctor immediately.

These diet pills work by blocking and removing the fat you eat from your intestines. That can’t be good. We all need some fat, not to mention these fat blockers stop your body from absorbing fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K and beta-carotene. They also have nasty side effects including uncontrolled bowel movements, stomach cramps and worse.

Addiction to Diet Pills

Today there are drugs called Adderall, Concerta and Straterra. They are amphetamine-based and not marketed as weight loss medicines; they are only approved for ADHD and narcolepsy. Yet their sales have doubled from 4.2 million to 9.5 million in the last five years. Some doctors are prescribing them for weight loss; and they are highly addictive and can cause liver problems.

The Side Effects

The side effects of the diet and weight loss pills are dangerous and terrible. They include blood pressure rising to dangerous levels, heart attacks, seizures, stroke, psychotic behavior, addiction, digestive disorders, gastrointestinal problems, chronic abdominal pain, heart valve problems, liver problems, kidney problems, depression, lung problems, dizziness, fainting, heart palpitations, panic attacks, insomnia, uncontrolled bowel movements, inability to absorb nutrients, diarrhea, constipation, hallucinations and death.

New FDA Warning for Meridia

On November 20, 2009, the FDA issued a warning about the diet pill Meridia (generically sibutramine hydrochloride). This diet pill has been on the market since 1997. The new warning from the FDA has found a link between Meridia and heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest. The FDA says, "Proceed with caution when using the diet drug Meridia" [2].

Weight Loss The Right Way

I saw no reports of anyone keeping the weight off once they stopped using the weight loss pills. Do you want to have to take these pills forever? The only real way to lose weight is to do it through a change of lifestyle and diet. Here are two books you should read about healthy weight loss: “The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss” by Dr. John McDougall and “Eat More, Weigh Less” by Dr. Dean Ornish.

Drug Interaction:

There are serious and life-threatening side effects when mixing some diet pills with MAO inhibitors. There are numerous other serious drug interaction warnings depending on which diet pills you took or take. Ask your doctor.

Note: Mixtures like Phen-fen, Phen-pro or any drug that is used for something other than what it was approved for is referred to as “off-label”. Like using anti-depressants or ADHD approved drugs for weight loss is off-label.


In 1999, Medsafe [1] wrote that if you have taken the diet pills Ponderax or Adifax for more than three months, you should tell your doctor and be checked for heart damage, even if you took these pills years ago. They were on the market between 1966 to 1997 for Ponderax and 1993 to 1997 for Adifax. The active ingredient is Ponderax is fenfluramine and the active ingredient in Adifax is dexfenfluramine. In fact if you have taken any diet pills and weight loss pills, you should tell a doctor and at least have your heart checked.

© 2009 Sam Montana

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[1] Medsafe is the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority

[2] FDA warning on Meridia

FDA list of tainted weight loss pills


Keith Townsend
Posted on Apr 13, 2012
Posted on Mar 24, 2011