Warning: 'Natural Slimmers' Can Kill

HONG KONG, Oct. 14 (UPI) — A researcher in Hong Kong advises doctors worldwide to ask patients with strange symptoms if they use over-the-counter slimming products.

Dr. Magdalene Tang of the Toxicology Reference Laboratory at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong reports medical records from Hong Kong show so-called “natural” slimming therapies were suspected in 66 poisonings. In eight cases the people became severely ill, and in one case the person died, Tang says.

Tang and colleagues looked at the ingredients of 81 slimming products taken by poisoning victims.

The researchers find 12 different agents in these products that were either undeclared weight-loss drugs, unlicensed chemical derivatives of licensed drugs, banned drugs, drugs used for an inappropriate indication, or a thyroid hormone.

“People like the idea of using a natural remedy because they think that if it is natural, it will be safe. There are two problems here,” Tang says in a statement. “Firstly not all natural agents are harmless, and secondly the remedies also contain potentially harmful manufactured drugs.”

Tang says the findings raise worldwide concerns — especially since these products may be available online to those living in regions with tighter regulatory controls.

The study is published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

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