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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Am I the last to hear of hCG?

   
Author Topic: Am I the last to hear of hCG?
DaisyMae
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I was talking to a friend today who was all excited because she was on day five of her hCG diet and had already lost 5 pounds. I had no idea what she was talking about. She explained to me that she injects the hormone hCG every day (and will do so for about a month) and is restricted to a very specific 500 calorie a day diet. She said most people lose about 1-2 pounds a day. Apparently the hormone makes it so you don't feel hungry and also makes sure the weight you lose is excess fat and not muscle.

The whole thing sounded sketchy to me, so I started googling it and found a HUGE amount of testimonials, message boards and sites selling hCG. There were plenty of advocates and a fair amount of skeptics but I was overwhelmed by the volume of success stories. I kept looking for the catch, the fine writing that says it causes cancer or makes you grow an extra limb.

Pretty much the only negative comments I found were that a lot of people just plain don't think it's effective and that those who are successful are just experiencing a placebo effect. Another downside is that it is pretty pricey and a great market for scammers.

The hormone is approved by the FDA as a fertility treatment but not as a weight loss treatment though many doctors will approve and prescribe it. It's been around for decades.

So, given the vast pool of experience of Hatrackers, I'm wondering what you know of hCG, particularly why if it's so great I've never heard of it before and what the dangers are as I can't fathom there not being any. Any firsthand accounts?

I'd be happy for my friend to lose weight, but it feels wrong to me somehow. Is it really what it's cracked up to be?

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Shanna
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If someone is eating only 500 calories a day, I wouldn't be surprised to hear about them losing weight.

I haven't heard anything about this but personally, I'd rather hop on a treadmill once a day than inject some weird chemical into my body.

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Dobbie
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I know there are some people here who would think it would be amusing to make some kind of snide comment about literally "hopping on a treadmill". To forestall that I think I should point out that treadmill hopping is a real exercise.

http://walking.about.com/od/treadmillworkouts/a/treadmilljump.htm

By the way, I'm really not sure I'm using the word "forestall" correctly, but it's not worth the trouble to look it up.

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Samprimary
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quote:
The whole thing sounded sketchy to me, so I started googling it and found a HUGE amount of testimonials
Googling will find huge amount of testimonials from people swearing that stuff that doesn't actually do anything (echinacea, etc) is a miracle wonder drug which cured their every ill. You gotta stretch past that, and past anecdote, in order to find credible information that can tell you whether or not something actually works or not.
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andi330
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quote:
Originally posted by Shanna:
If someone is eating only 500 calories a day, I wouldn't be surprised to hear about them losing weight.

I haven't heard anything about this but personally, I'd rather hop on a treadmill once a day than inject some weird chemical into my body.

I would, because people who consume only 500 calories a day convince their bodies that they are starving. The body then starts storing fat rather than burning it, and can cause weight gain, or at least stall out weight loss.
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Valentine014
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Treadmill hopping looks like a blast!
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Mucus
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Yeah, seems kinda dubious.

quote:
Albert Stunkard, director emeritus of the weight and eating disorders program at the University of Pennsylvania, said, ''The first drugs that were used that turned out to be effective were amphetamines.'' These stimulants, introduced in the 1950's, suppressed appetite and may have raised metabolism.

...

One of the strangest weight loss crazes was human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced by pregnant women. During the 1960's, injections of the hormone were said to stimulate rapid weight loss -- if they were combined with a strict, low-fat, low-calorie diet. Some patients were also told that if they cheated on the diet, the hormone would actually cause rapid weight gain.

''It was a scam,'' said Dr. Heymsfield.

http://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/25/health/history-counsels-caution-on-diet-pills.html

quote:
Low-dose human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) combined with a severe diet remains a popular treatment for obesity, despite equivocal evidence of its effectiveness. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, the effects of HCG on weight loss were compared with placebo injections. Forty obese women (body mass index greater than 30 kg/m2) were placed on the same diet supplying 5,000 kJ per day and received daily intramuscular injections of saline or HCG, 6 days a week for 6 weeks. A psychological profile, hunger level, body circumferences, a fasting blood sample and food records were obtained at the start and end of the study, while body weight was measured weekly. Subjects receiving HCG injections showed no advantages over those on placebo in respect of any of the variables recorded. Furthermore, weight loss on our diet was similar to that on severely restricted intake. We conclude that there is no rationale for the use of HCG injections in the treatment of obesity.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2405506
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Samprimary
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quote:
ABSTRACT Our investigation was designed to retest the hypothesis of the efficacy of human
chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) on weight reduction in obese women in a clinic setting. We sought to
duplicate the Asher-Harper study (1973) which had found that the combination of 500 cal diet and
HCG had a statistically significant benefit over the diet and placebo combination as evidenced by
greater weight loss and decrease in hunger. Fifty-one women between the ages of 18 and 60
participated in our 32-day prospective, randomized, double-blind comparison of HCG versus
placebo. Each patient was given the same diet (the one prescribed in the Asher-Harper study), was
weighed daily Monday through Saturday and was counselled by one of the investigators who
administered the injections. Laboratory studies were performed at the time of initial physical
examinations and at the end of the study. Twenty of 25 in the HCG and 21 of 26 patients in the
placebo groups completed 28 injections. There was no statistically significant difference in the means
of the two groups in number of injections received, weight loss, percent of weight loss, hip and waist
circumference, weight loss per injection, or in hunger ratings. HCG does not appear to enhance the
effectiveness of a rigidly imposed regimen for weight reduction.
Am.J. Clin. Nutr. 29: 940 -948,
1976.

http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/reprint/29/9/940.pdf

quote:
Human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) is a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women. More than 50 years ago, Dr. Albert T. Simeons, a British-born physician, contended that HCG injections would enable dieters to subsist comfortably on a 500-calorie-a-day diet. He claimed that HCG would mobilize stored fat; suppress appetite; and redistribute fat from the waist, hips, and thighs [1]. There is no scientific evidence to support these claims [2-13]. Moreover, a 500-calorie (semi-starvation) diet is likely to result in loss of protein from vital organs, and HCG can cause other adverse effects. Gabe Mirkin, M.D., has noted:

At one time, HCG was the most widespread obesity medication administered in the United States. Some doctors liked it because it assured them of a steady clientele. Patients had to come in once a week for an injection [14].

Negative studies and government action reduced the use of HGC injections for weight control close to zero. However, their promotion by infomercial king Kevin Trudeau may cause their use to increase. His 2007 book, The Weight Loss Cure They Don't Want You to Know About, claims that "an absolute cure for obesity was discovered almost fifty years ago" but was "suppressed" by the AMA, the FDA, and "other medical establishments throughout the world." Trudeau further claims that until now, "this miracle weight loss breakthrough has been hidden from the public so that drug companies can make billions of dollars selling their expensive drug treatments and surgical procedures for obesity." The alleged cure consists of HCG injections plus 50 to 60 required and recommended do's and don'ts [16].

In September 2007, the FTC charged Kevin Trudeau with violating a court order by misrepresenting the contents of the book. In infomercials, Trudeau falsely claimed that the book's weight-loss plan is easy to do, can be done at home, and ultimately allows readers to eat whatever they want. Previous FTC action had led to a court order banning from using infomercials to sell any product, service, or program except for books and other publications The order specified that he not misrepresent the content of the books. The FTC is now charging that he violated that narrow exemption [17].

http://www.dietscam.org/reports/hcg.shtml

quote:
Human chorionic gonadotropin was legitimately used at the time to treat a condition called Fröhlich's syndrome, a hormonal imbalance that affects young boys, disturbing their sexual development, appetite, and sleep, and causing them to accumulate fat on the hips, buttocks, and thighs. Simeons reasoned that if the drug worked to melt away the fat on those boys with a rare genetic disorder, then it ought to do the same thing on normal, healthy women. The hormone, he wrote, would cause a "normal distribution" of fat on the body and would correct a "basic disorder in the brain." His diet book -- Pounds and Inches: A New Approach to Obesity -- included other gems of pseudo-medical advice, warning readers to eat no breakfast whatsoever, except for coffee, and to abstain from using any cosmetics or lotion on the body because it will be absorbed and added to the existing fat deposits in the body.
https://www.caremark.com/wps/portal/HEALTH_RESOURCES?topic=dietscams


okay, the long and short of it appears to be essentially that this is complete quackery.

Please do not use hCG or recommend it to others.

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DaisyMae
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Mucus and Samp, thanks for those links. I'm not suprised that scientific results show the thing to be hokey.

I would have initially written it off as such, but then as I was trying to find info about it another friend (who has never met and lives far away from the first friend, btw) called and I was asking her if she'd ever heard of it. She had not only heard of it, but had tried it several times. She said it's what she used to lose weight before vacations because she could lose 15 pounds in a couple of weeks.

!!!

My natural tendency is not trust anyone trying to sell me something. But, I am also naturally trusting (perhaps too much so, at times) of individuals. I was pretty surprised at the people on diet message boards who were saying "I love this diet so much. It's the only thing that has been able to help me lose weight." I couldn't see what they could gain from lying, unless they were plants, in which case the hCG propoganda team is REALLY good.

One girl did a weekly YouTube series where she'd report her progress and how she felt. She claimed to have lost 25 pounds in 22 days and you could visibly see her getting thinner.

Now, lest my posts come off as a plea for someone to validate hCG let me make it clear that I have no intention of using it. I'm kind of a diet/exercise girl myself.

I'm just trying to find out if this "protocol," as it seems to be called, has any merit. Mostly I want to verify that my friend isn't doing something that could potentially harm her.

So far I'm not really seeing research that says it is harmful, though there seems to plenty that says it is nonsense.

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paigereader
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Yikes- I wonder if you took a pregnancy test while getting these shots if you would test positive. I couldn't do the shots or 500 calories! says the girl whose body flips-out on Midol (as I stuff a chip in my mouth washed down with coffee with cream and sugar)
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Baron Samedi
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Daisy: You may be looking at the problem from the wrong angle. The problem with all those testimonials isn't necessarily that all the people are lying. Of course, there's a good chance that some of those stories are fabricated or exaggerated. But I'm pretty sure your friend isn't lying to you. I have no problem believing that she uses this diet, or that she loses some weight when she does. But it doesn't mean that the diet works. It has nothing to do with her personal reliability, so much as the nature of anecdotal evidence.

There are many different types of evidence, none of which are bulletproof, and all of which should be carefully examined when trying to determine the strength of a position. But of all the types of evidence, none is weaker than anecdotal evidence. It's not completely worthless, but it's darn close.

I don't think it's necessary to break it all the way down for you. But if you take any idea that enough people have tried, you're likely to find plenty of people who have reached their desired outcome. You may even know some. But you have to be very careful about what conclusions you draw from a single data point, or several self-selected data points, even if the people providing them are completely trustworthy.

I think the question you should be asking isn't, "why would all these people lie," but rather, "if the anecdotal evidence is so overwhelming, why don't the people who are selling this diet run some more rigorous tests on it?" If an HGC merchant could replace all these testimonials with one convincing study in JAMA or The New England Journal of Medicine, they could probably increase their income exponentially. And improve countless lives to boot.

If the people who are selling this stuff really believe in it, why would they be content to rely solely on testimonials? And if they have so little faith in their own product that they aren't even running the tests, that should tell you more about it than all the inspiring stories on the entire Internet.

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DaisyMae
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quote:
I have no problem believing that she uses this diet, or that she loses some weight when she does. But it doesn't mean that the diet works.
What does it mean then? I'm not at all trying to fault your logic. I'm one of the inferior number of people around here who does not have a lot of scientific background nor do I think in scientific terms.

There are enough people desperate to lose weight and do it quickly that I think all it takes is a few people swearing by the system for them to shell out the money to try it themselves. It reeks of a scam, but I guess my question is, if people are using it and losing weight, does that not mean it works?

I understand what the placebo effect is, but, again, don't really understand the science behind it. It is my understanding that the placebo effect is when one receives a desired physical result merely from believing that the procedure they are undergoing will cause the result. Is this a correct assessment? If so, does that indicate that we can will ourselves to actually change physical symptoms or merely that we have convinced ourselves the change has occurred when in actuality it has not?

I guess what it boils down to for me is, scientific research or no, if someone conforms to the program and loses a lot of weight, does the diet not indeed work? And whether it works or not, will it cause harm? The latter question is my ultimate motivation for learning more on the subject.

Again, I am not a proponent of this stuff. The fact that the science backs up that it's a hoax seems fitting given what the program entails.

Why then, however, are there certified M.D.s willing to administer the stuff and if it truly was ineffective why would there be so many people who swear by it?

You can argue that it's not the hormone itself causing the weight loss, but the extremely low caloric intake. I know of very few people, however, particularly obese people, who would be able to stick with such a small amount of food for even more than one day. The people advocating hCG claim that it takes away your appetite and that it releases "locked fat" and you are using those calories to sustain daily function.

I guess I'm looking for facts and wondering why proof and testimony don't coincide.

That may be my naiviete showing through, in which case I beg all to forgive me for it and further educate me.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by DaisyMae:
Why then, however, are there certified M.D.s willing to administer the stuff

Having a medical degree doesn't necessarily mean being well-versed in the scientific method (unfortunately). It also isn't automatic sainthood. [Wink] Administering hCG is likely a great moneymaker, and doctoring just doesn't pay what it used to.

quote:
Originally posted by DaisyMae:
if it truly was ineffective why would there be so many people who swear by it?

Because they believe that it did. There are also people who swear by lucky socks.

quote:
Originally posted by DaisyMae:
You can argue that it's not the hormone itself causing the weight loss, but the extremely low caloric intake. I know of very few people, however, particularly obese people, who would be able to stick with such a small amount of food for even more than one day.

If they believe they are on a magic drug that will help them stick to the diet, some will. Thanks to the magic of the placebo effect.
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scifibum
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I wonder if this would cause false positives on pregnancy tests.

DaisyMae, people who find that it really does something for them might be experiencing a placebo effect. And I would be completely unsurprised to find that testimonials are largely written by and published by people who are trying to make money from hcg treatments. It's de rigueur quackery-for-profit. Coral calcium supplements, and "the pH miracle" have a lot of testimonials too.

---

I really hate Trudeau. Kevin Trudeau is a stinky windbag of falsity. His mega memory system should help him remember what a scum scraper he is. Kevin Trudeau is really Kevin Falsdeau. Kevin Trudeau did one thing right: he gave Tammy Faye a place on television again. Other than that it's all wrong. The FDA should approve a cure for Kevin Trudeau. Herbal remedies should kick Kevin Trudeau in the shins for making them look bad.

---

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Papa Moose
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<Begins ". . .and that was the first time I met Kevin Trudeau" meme.>
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DaisyMae
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Stumbling through hCG searches was the first I'd ever heard of Kevin Trudeau.

I take it he's had a greedy finger in more than just the hCG pie?

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DaisyMae
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Ah, I see it doesn't take much searching to find the scoop on Trudeau.

When your Wiki page has a category entitled "Criminal history and legal proceedings" it does tend to taint your credibility a bit.

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Kwea
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daisy, you may find 200 people who swear it works. What you DON'T hve is their history, both medical and personal, their other medications, their initial weights as measured by a calibrated scale....nothing controllable.

You also don't know how many people tried it over all. If it was 50 people out of 500, that's 10%. If it was 5000 people, it's 0.1%.
5.

It is possible that each one of those people is telling the truth, but that this crap still has no effect....or even causes weight GAIN.

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scifibum
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He has a very earnest face. I think it's the secret to his incredible success at fraud. (There's no shortage of people with a similar lack of ingenuousness, but they don't seem to be so good at getting dollars flung at them for lying.)
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by DaisyMae:
When your Wiki page has a category entitled "Criminal history and legal proceedings" it does tend to taint your credibility a bit.

Heh. Just a tad.
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The Pixiest
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I once lost a pound a day for a month by starving myself like that. Then I got fantastically ill.

I'll stick with my slow but steady means of weightloss thank you. (I've lost 22lbs and counting.)

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hobsen
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Some people find a few days of starvation are a good way to start a diet. But 500 calories a day for a month risks permanent health damage, although the danger is probably not high for those initially in good health. Doing without nourishment altogether for a month would be decidedly risky, but 500 calories does provide some protection. And it makes a big difference whether you are a man or a woman, as women need less food, so if the diet ignores that the author is mendacious or demented.

The worst thing about starvation diets is that it has been shown the human body adapts by becoming more efficient at getting calories from food. After the diet is over, the dieter can probably gain weight on less food than before, which is not what anyone wants. How long this effect lasts I am not sure has been measured, and individuals may vary of course.

Finally the results may vary depending on how much of the active ingredient is in your shot. If a doctor is unethical, he may economize by injecting nearly pure water, which will do neither good nor harm, except for the placebo effect. But injecting a large amount of this medicine regularly would risk dangerous side effects, which I doubt have been fully studied. I would go with The Pixiest on this, and I am sorry she had to find it out by experience, starvation diets are bad news even without having injections of HCG which might cause separate problems.

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Christine
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500 calories a day is starvation level. At that level, it won't take long for your body to start shutting down. Not only is it not healthy, but it is not maintainable.

Of course people who eat 500 calories a day will lose weight. I don't doubt the testimonials at all. I'm not sure if the hormone they injected actually helped decrease their appetite or if it was a placebo effect, but either way, the problem in this scenario is not the hormones (although they may be a problem) but the diet itself.

And of course, the minute you start eating normally again your body will gobble the weight back up because you've shot your metabolism all to heck.

Never ever trust a miracle diet. Never ever trust miracle pills. It can hurt you.

I'm a bit passionate on this subject because years ago I took some diet pills that subsequently caused me to develop an irregular heartbeat. I was lucky -- when I stopped taking them for a few months, I seemed to go back to normal (though I may never know what permanent damage I did to myself).

If you want to lose weight, step up the exercise. A good aerobic workout can burn 5-15 calories a minute, depending upon how fast you get your heart rate up. I keep track on dance dance revolution and often burn 250 calories in thirty minutes. If I could cut my stress level enough to stop eating dessert all the time, that could translate into slow, healthy weight loss very easily. [Smile]

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nik
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Usually, if you lose 10lbs in 10 days, it's probably 10lbs of water. Congratulations, you're dehydrated [Smile] .

Of course, if you're only eating 500 calories a day, I'm sure you'll lose quite a bit of weight. Weight loss happens when you burn more calories then you are in taking, but I would think that the healthiest option would be to start burning more, not necessarily eating less. Especially because exercise is so good for you.

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