More than a year-and-a-half ago, I warned you about the side effects from the very popular weight loss product orlistat. You probably know it as Alli or Xenical. These pills not only caused widespread anal leakage, they also damaged the liver in more than two-dozen people worldwide. Six of them had total liver failure.
I said at that time that the FDA should never have approved these drugs. But they sanctioned them because the FDA found no definite link between orlistat and liver damage.
I hope you listened to me 18 months ago, because now the news is much worse. And once more, the FDA is ignoring the issue. They’re allowing drug manufacturers to make millions while adverse reaction reports mount. Now it’s not “just” a matter of a few people having liver failure. Doctors have linked Alli and Xenical to 47 cases of pancreatitis and 73 cases of painful kidney stones.
Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, has issued a second petition in five years to the FDA. They want the FDA to ban these weight-loss drugs. The FDA is ignoring their petition. They may think the number of people the drugs harm is too small to enact a ban. But the numbers are growing. And the longer you take these drugs, the more likely you’ll experience problems. The FDA’s lack of action puts you at risk for serious health problems if you’re taking either of these drugs.
The weight-loss benefits of these two drugs are small compared to their risks. And drug manufacturers know this. They are savvy enough to say that their drugs should be combined with a sensible low-fat diet and regular exercise. Actually, a “low-fat diet” is key. When you take Alli or Xenical, they cause your body to excrete the fats in your diet. It prevents digestion of the fats, and the solid waste it produces causes anal leakage, diarrhea, and gas.
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That’s not all.
These drugs not only block the absorption of dietary fats, they decrease the absorption of essential fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, E, and D, as well as fish oil and CoQ10!
The premise of this weight loss program is that if these drugs cause loose stools, you will limit your dietary fats. And reduce your calorie intake. You can do this without the drugs. Just think “anal leakage” before you take a bite of your next meal or snack.
If your problem is that you’re craving certain foods that keep you from losing weight, I have a suggestion. Try taking Craving Quencher from Advanced Bionutritionals and see if that combination of nutrients helps you reduce your intake of foods that are preventing weight loss. I’m hearing good reports about it. And it doesn’t cause the nasty side effects these drugs cause.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand