The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are warning consumers to stop using Hydroxycut, a range of dietary supplements that are marketed for weight loss, fat burning, energy enhancing, low carb diet aids and water loss. The product has been linked to at least one death and cases of serious liver damage.

The FDA warning came on Friday 1st May, and said that the Canadian manufacturer and US distributor have agreed to recall all 14 products which are sold through grocery stores and pharmacies. The products are advertised as containing natural ingredients, and about 9 million items were sold last year.

Hydroxycut is made by Iovate Health Sciences Inc, of Oakville, Ontario and is distributed by Iovate Health Sciences USA Inc. of Blasdell, New York.

The FDA has received 23 reports of serious health complaints in connection with the product. These range from jaundice and raised liver enzymes (a sign of possible liver injury), to liver damage that is so bad the patient needs a transplant.

There is a report of 1 death linked to the product, said the FDA.

Dr Linda Katz, interim chief medical officer of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said:

“The FDA urges consumers to discontinue use of Hydroxycut products in order to avoid any undue risk.”

“Adverse events are rare, but exist. Consumers should consult a physician or other health care professional if they are experiencing symptoms possibly associated with these products,” she added.

Other health problems have also been reported. These include: seizures, cardiovascular problems, and rhabdomyolysis, a type of muscle damage that can result in serious problems, including kidney failure.

The people who have suffered liver injury from using the product said they were using it at the doses recommended on the label.

Symptoms of liver injury include jaundice (when the skin and/or the whites of your eyes go yellow), brown urine, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, light-coloured stools, feeling very tired or fatigued, feeling weak, itching and pain in the stomach or abdomen.

The full list of 14 products affected is given in the FDA news alert.

Although the FDA hasn’t received reports of serious liver problems linked to all the Hydroxycut products, the manufacturer has agreed to recall all of the ones in the list which does not include Hydroxycut Cleanse and Hoodia products.

If you have any of the products affected you should stop using them and take them back to where you bought them, said the FDA.

The FDA said it does not know which ingredients, dosages or health-related factors are at the bottom of the risk problems linked to these products, which contain a range of herbal extracts and other ingredients.

Main sources: FDA.

Written by: Catharine Paddock, PhD