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Diet Supplement Tied to Hepatitis

Nicole Cutler L.Ac. April 21, 2014

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Did you know that close to 100 people have unintentionally suffered from hepatitis because they took a popular weight loss product?

A diet supplement claiming to burn fat, OxyElite Pro, is no longer on the market because of its connection with nearly 100 cases of hepatitis. This startling statistic highlights the urgent need for two important changes:

  1. improved oversight of nutritional products
  2. and greater support for healthful weight loss.

Obesity

Generally equivalent to a person’s percentage of body fat, body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 is considered obese. Obesity has been linked to a majority of preventable diseases that can result in serious illness or death. Affecting at least a third of Americans, obesity increases the risk for:

  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Fatty Liver Disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Certain Cancers
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Reproductive Problems
  • Gallstones

Many factors contribute to this country’s astounding obesity rate. Some of the well-known culprits include inactivity, reduced fitness ability, high stress levels, foods full of sugar and fat, and low fiber intake. Besides following a carefully orchestrated eating plan and adhering to regular physical activity, few effective strategies to safely reverse obesity exist.

OxyElite Pro

Dietary supplements that promise to initiate weight loss and burn fat have become increasingly popular among those hoping to lose weight; however, they are not necessarily safe. The history behind OxyElite Pro clearly demonstrates that some diet supplements cause significant harm.

Manufactured by USPLabs, OxyElite Pro is a dietary supplement has been linked to 97 cases of hepatitis – including 47 people who were hospitalized, three who needed liver transplantations and one person who died.

  • In May 2013, reports of people who took the supplement getting sick began.
  • In September 2013, the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) learned of a cluster of seven Hawaiin residents with acute liver failure/non-viral hepatitis and connected them to OxyElite Pro.
  • In October 2013, USPLabs stopped selling OxyElite Pro.
  • By February 2014, 97 cases of hepatitis were linked to OxyElite Pro.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis can be the symptom of many illnesses, including autoimmune disease, alcoholism, viral infection or toxicity from a drug or dietary supplement.

Inflammation of the liver affects this organ’s ability to function, potentially causing mild symptoms such as nausea and appetite loss, or more serious issues like jaundice, liver damage and liver failure.

Repeated liver inflammation causes scarring. If hepatitis is not detected and stopped early on, the liver scarring progresses and can lead to cirrhosis – the permanent hardening and shrinking of the liver. Besides severely limiting the liver’s ability to function, cirrhosis has many complications – some which are life-threatening.

Change Needed

Since a diet supplement intended to help burn fat caused hepatic illness in a substantial number of people, attention has been turned towards preventing such an occurrence in the future. There are two major changes needed to stop a new combination of potentially harmful substances from causing bodily harm:

  1. Improved legislation for dietary supplements – Unlike prescription medications, supplements do not require pre-marketing approval before they reach store shelves. Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, anything labeled as a dietary supplement is assumed to be safe until proven otherwise. Legislation requiring supplement manufacturers register their products (including all ingredients) with the FDA and provide potential side effect information would be a step toward the direction of safety.
  2. Greater system-wide support for weight loss – Because obesity is one of the leading causes of illness that is preventable, healthcare providers who provide nutrition and exercise guidance are in great demand. If health insurance plans covered nutritional consultants and personal trainers for weight management purposes, the obesity rates would likely plummet. As the two most effective and safest approaches toward reversing obesity, diet and exercise should lay the framework for our healthcare system.

OxyElite Pro is not the first weight loss supplement to cause harm, and it likely won’t be the last. People are desperate to find a simple way to lose weight, and are vulnerable to the mercy of products claiming to burn weight and reverse obesity. Hopefully, the significant number of people who suffered from hepatitis because they took OxyElite Pro helped bring awareness to this problem – and will pave the way for greater safety measures for supplements and improved support for losing excessive body fat.

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html, Obesity and Overweight for Professionals: Data and Statistics, Retrieved April 6, 2014, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm374742.htm, OxyElite Pro Supplements Recalled, Retrieved April 6, 2014, US Food and Drug Administration, 2014.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/04/03/diet-supplement-causes-nearly-100-hepatitis-cases/, Diet Supplement Causes Nearly 100 Hepatitis Cases, Retrieved April 6, 2014, Fox News Network, LLC, 2014.

http://www.livescience.com/34735-hepatitis-symptoms-treatment.html, Hepatitis: Symptoms and Treatment, Iris Tse, Retrieved April 6, 2014, livescience.com, 2014.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/03/hepatitis-oxyelite-pro-100-cases-diet-supplement_n_5083746.html, Nearly 100 Hepatitis Cases Linked To OxyElite Pro Diet Supplement, Retrieved April 6, 2014, The HuffingtonPost.com, Inc., 2014.

http://www.naturalproductsinsider.com/news/2014/03/usplabs-moves-to-consolidate-oxyelite-pro-jack3d.aspx, USPlabs Moves to Consolidate OxyElite Pro, Jack3d Lawsuits, Josh Long, Retrieved April 6, 2014, Virgo Publishing, LLC, 2014.

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1315559, Hazards of Hindsight – Monitoring the Safety of Nutritional Supplements, Pieter A. Cohen, MD, New England Journal of Medicine, April 2014.

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  • Livin’ Out Loud

    May I say, I’m sorry. And if you live in California, or not–and have Hep. C–go see Dr. Leonard Goldstein, at UCLA. Good luck. Peace

    • Alex

      thank you. Could you me his clinic address or phone.

  • Angela Brumley

    FYI. If you are too ill to work, social security denies your claim, you cannot pay your utilities, you will either be homeless or die. You don’t have a chance of living. The good old USA

  • RW

    The article referring to 100 cases of Hep C from taking a supplement has to mean Hep-A. Hep C is a blood to blood infection. Hep A is from food, water etc. I NEVER heard of anyone getting Hep C from ingesting any kind of food etc. NEVER! I have had 3 forms in my life, Hep A, HepC and Hep B. Still have Hep-C! I am being treated though with a new drug combination that is better than 80 or even 90% successful. I do have extensive knowledge on the subject of Hep-C and have even spoke with local GPs in my area about my experiences living with Hep-C. I have had 2 Liver transplants, lost my Gallbladder and Spleen due to Hep-C and have been diagnosed with Pancreatitis. I have no idea how anyone could contract Hep-C from anything other than tainted blood, either through transfusion before blood was checked or, other ways would be IV drug user who shared needles, and through blood to blood through open sore that’s bleeding and contacted a person with Hep-C. Bottom line is it is ONLY contracted through blood to blood directly.