Weight-Loss Supplement Has Teensy Potential Side Effect: You Might *Get Mad Cow Disease*!

By Valerie Ross | March 31, 2011 4:44 pm

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hGC), a hormone produced during pregnancy, is isolated from the urine of pregnant women and used to treat infertility. Since the 1950s, however, it’s also been used as a weight-loss aid—and still is, even though there’s no solid evidence showing it works.

But taking hCG could be worse than just ineffective: A new study shows that doses of the hormone can transmit prions, the misfolded proteins that cause mad cow disease and its human equivalent, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, an invariably fatal form of dementia that riddles the brain with holes (photo).

That’s right: There’s a potential risk of contracting deadly, brain-destroying illness by injecting yourself with proteins taken from other people’s urine—and you won’t even lose weight.

The New York Times lamely wrote earlier this month that hCG as a weight-loss regimen “has fans and skeptics”—but Travis Saunders at Obesity Panacea says that spreading mad cow is just one more reason to avoid “the most thoroughly debunked weight loss gimmick in medical history.”

No prion diseases have been transmitted through urine yet, the authors of the study say, but it is theoretically possible. And even the theoretical risk of a spongy brain, pitted against no weight loss benefit, is enough to say that hGC is BS.

Image: Flickr / Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden

  • Elaine

    This sounds like fearmongering to me since not one datapoint is given. Come on, DISCOVERY, you’re better than that!

  • Idlewilde

    I don’t need data points to convince me not to eat someone else’s pee.

  • http://weightwatchersmeetings.net B. SH.

    I do not understand why people use it?
    There is also lots of healthy ways to lose weight!

  • Tobemory

    Does it need data points when it links to the (OpenAccess) paper? Bravo on that Discovery – whether your interpretation is correct or not, at least it links to the primary source so we can judge for ourselves.

  • Scott

    I assumed the publishing date was a day later, until I actually opened the article. CJD is very, very rare, even in countries that have had significant cases, but I suppose it is a good way to convince people not to take a stupid weight loss treatment.

    And, isn’t it hCG?

  • JLM

    HCG is used to make hormone levels rebound, some guys will use it after a heavy cycle of steroids to get their bodies up and running normal again. It is a fairly obscure product and hard to get your hands on in the black market. No steroid dealer that has access to this would be promoting it for weight loss, and nobody looking at something like HCG would think of using something that might cause weight loss when there are far more effective fat burners out there like clenbuterol, which can cause up to 30 pounds of fat to be lost in a 2 week period in extreme cases and generally costs less than HCG. Interesting tho that this may cause mad cow in humans, even tho this article does seem like a half assed attempt at an april fools joke. Doctors give HCG to many women after giving birth, to make their hormone levels rebound. How many of these women are developing mad cow?

  • modusoperandi

    Perhaps it’s merely a case of errata. HGH which has been used for fat burning purposes was at one time known for causing this condition as it was originally sourced from cadavers. Modern human growth hormone does not share this risk.

  • johnnydanja

    how bout you get your lazy asses on a treadmill or bike. That might work. I’ve heard the side effects are minimal.

  • scott

    What a misleading headline designed as click bait. I don’t even have a care about the topic of the article. I’m just disappointed with how it is written and it is dishonest. It should read “weight loss supplement found to be tainted.” Mad cow disease is not the side effect of the drug. The same as AIDS is NOT a side effect of hemoglobin. I’m sure that there could be tons of real side effects associated with whatever the hormone is, so write about that. So disappointing.

  • quinchy1969

    Elaine and Tobemory – the name of this magazine/webmag is DISCOVER – not Discovery… Discovery is a channel on the TV or one of the space shuttles – have you guys been hitting the HCG? HA!

  • Camille Chamomille

    Have tried all the different regimens before and even got into the gym thing but its just a lot of work and you really need some good devotion to it to last but I am just to busy to focus even on my schedule, missed all of it and then goes back to my large weight. My best friend referred me to the Dr Max Powers “15 Day Cleanse”.

    I just started a couple of weeks ago and I already felt the light and clean feeling all over, and no side effects whatsoever. The Dr Max 15 Day Cleanse is a natural product and I believe that this time it will be a success in truly dropping down my excess weight. This product is really so good, its worth the cash but you won’t regret it because you will definitely feel the healthy difference at once.

  • f brown

    hcg has worked wonder for me so its not bs i lost 30 pounds in 20 days

  • cheap hermes handbags

    It is a good kind of the passager.

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