Does HCG Really Help Lose Weight?

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Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone associated with dramatic weight loss when Dr. A. T. W. Simeons linked successful weight loss to HCG injections and a low-calorie diet. The Simeons studies gained popularity, but many reputable organizations, including the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic, report that there is not conclusive evidence connecting HCG with weight loss.

The Facts

  • Many claim that HCG injections can help individuals lose 1 to 2 lbs. per day when used with a very low-calorie diet. Simeons discovered patients injected with 125 UI of HCG who also followed a 500-calorie-day diet experienced weight loss in the hips, bellies and thighs. However, several randomized studies suggest otherwise, says George A. Bray, chair in nutrition at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and Claude Bouchard, Ph.D. Bray and Bouchard note that Dr. Simeons' studies "have shown HCG shots are no more efficacious than the diet alone."

History

  • HCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy. In 1954, Simeons conducted his famous survey and concluded HCG injections were helpful in weight reduction. Simeons is a University of Heidelberg graduate. His discovery is interesting because he claims that with HCG injections, his subjects did not suffer from the typical side effects as those on low-calorie diets alone. The diet is limited to 500 calories a day.

Theories/Speculation

  • Journalist Kevin Trudeau writes that the there is truth in Simeons' studies. In properly conducted studies, the group that received HCG lost more weight than those that received the placebo. The "HCG group saw a dramatic reshaping and re-sculpting of their bodies," Trudeau writes. They lost in problem areas including hips, thighs and stomachs. In addition, they had no hunger. Trudeau maintains the NIH, Food and Drug Administration and drug companies are "simply lying to us in order to protect the profits of the food companies, the pharmaceutical companies, and the diet industry." Trudeau is not a medical doctor nor does he have medical training.

Considerations

  • The effectiveness of HCG as a weight loss tool should be viewed along with the knowledge that patients followed a restrictive diet of 500 calories per day. Studies since 1954 indicate inconclusive results, says the Mayo Clinic. It's also worth noting that the injections "seemed to be no more effective than were placebos in promoting weight loss," reports the Mayo Clinic. The National Institutes of Health also state that HCG has "not been demonstrated to be effective therapy in the treatment of obesity" and there is "no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction."

Warnings

  • HCG as weight loss management is very risky. The NIH reports that serious adverse reactions to using the drug are ovarian hyperstimulation, ovarian cyst ruptures, multiple births and arterial thromboembolism. The NIH strongly urges that HCG should with be used with human menopausal gonadotropins and only by physicians treating infertility problems.

References

  • George A. Bray and Claude Bouchard; Handbook of Obesity: Clinical Applications; 2008.
  • Kevin Trudeau; The Weight Loss Cure "They" Don't Want You to Know About; 2007.
  • National Institutes of Health
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