The Dangers Of Diet Aids Essay Research — страница 2

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dangerous herbal diet aids contain ephedra, also known as ma huang.(Fraser, 62) Ma huang, especially in combination with caffeine, can drive up blood pressure or cause seizures or strokes and has been implicated in more than two dozen deaths.(Fraser, 66) The Food and Drug Administration recently investigated reports of thirty-eight deaths among more than eight hundred cases of side effects associated with using products containing ephedrine alkaloids, one of ma huang s main components.(Fen-phen, 6) It is advisable for pregnant or nursing women to not take ephedra, as well as people who have heart disease, anxiety disorder, high blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma, or an overactive thyroid gland.(Williamson, 74) Ephedra can be especially harmful if taken at the same time as

momoamine oxidase inhibitor drugs, commonly prescribed for depression.(Williamson, 74) On most diet aid boxes there are no indications that the aid contains a laxative that can cause diarrhea, cramping, and with long-term use, problems with the colon and even the heart.(Fraser,62) Senna, one such laxative, is often identified as locust plant. (Fraser, 62) Used for long periods of time, senna can flush important minerals, called electrolytes, out of the body. Among these electrolytes is potassium, which sends electrical signals to the heart and keeps it beating normally. Sometimes the messages to the heart get confused and the heart stops.(Fraser,66) People using senna can also easily become dependent on its laxative effects.(Fraser,66) Fen-Phen, Fenfluramine and Phentermine, is a

popular prescription diet aid combination. On their own, these appetite suppressants proved disappointing, but in 1992 University of Rochester researchers reported that taken together the two drugs helped patients lose almost four times as much weight as before.(New, 58) Still, only one in four patients lost weight and fifteen percent had to stop taking the drugs because of side effects such as dry mouth and dizziness.(New, 58) In 1997 Fen-Phen was taken off the market because of more deadly side effects. Fenfluramine has a connection with primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH), a disease that kills the majority of people who get it.(Kramer, 206) PPH is when the seratonin that the drugs keep flowing through the brain, making the user feel full, constrict blood vessels in the lungs,

causing the heart to beat harder and harder until it s difficult to breathe.(Kramer, 206) PPH is also difficult to diagnose. Often, by the time there are symptoms, the heart and lungs are damaged beyond repair, and a heart-lung transplant is the patient s only hope for survival.(Kramer,206) Redux is a prescription diet aid also known as Dexfenfluramine. Redux works by increasing the availability of serotonin, a brain chemical that seems, among other things, to curb cravings for sweets. In one study patients who took dexfenfluramine — and made no special effort to cut calories– lost an average often pounds over three months.(New, 58) Last year Johns Hopkins neurologist George Ricaurte found that high doses of dexfenfluramine caused lasting damage to the rain nerve-cell endings

in lab monkeys.(New, 58) Despite these findings, the U.S. FDA says it is not aware of human studies that demonstrate a problem, and people in Europe have taken the drugs for years without any problems.(Kramer, 206) The FDA approved Redux in 1996 with the knowledge that could cause PPA, but it was argued that Redux could prevent twenty obesity-related deaths for every one death caused by PPA, preventing two hundred and eighty deaths per million users.(Kramer, 208) The chances of dying from a reaction to penicillin or from being struck by lightning are greater odds than those from dying from Redux or fen-phen.(Kramer, 206) In 1997, the FDA revealed that 82 patients had developed defects in their heart valves while on fen-phen, and that seven patients had come down with the same

condition on Redux. Redux was later recalled from the market in June of 1998.(Lemonick, 81) Even after reading dozens of magazine articles and books about the positive and negative effects of diet aids, I decided to take my chances and buy a month s supply of Metabolife, an over-the-counter appetite suppressant and metabolism stimulator. Though the side effects I read about range from minor ailments to deadly diseases, few are extremely common among users in my age group and health status. Any drug, whether prescription or over-the-counter, has potential to be harmful to the body when abused. When used with caution and as directed on the packaging, appetite suppressants can be a helpful supplement to most dieters. But, before using any medication, it is a good idea to make an