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The Bad Effects of Hydroxycut

author image Shannon Marks
Shannon Marks started her journalism career in 1994. She was a reporter at the "Beachcomber" in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and contributed to "Philadelphia Weekly." Marks also served as a research editor, reporter and contributing writer at lifestyle, travel and entertainment magazines in New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from Temple University.
The Bad Effects of Hydroxycut
A woman is holding a supplement pill. Photo Credit: Steve Mason/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Hydroxycut is a nutritional supplement used to control weight. It contains the tropical-fruit ingredient Garcinia cambogia. A study published in 2009 in the "World Journal of Gastroenterology" reported that about 15 percent of Americans use weight-loss supplements. Hydroxycut, moving over a million units a year, is one of the top-selling nutritional supplements in the United States.

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Liver Problems

In May of 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release indicating that Iovate Health Sciences USA, Inc., the company that manufactures Hydroxycut, was initiating a voluntary, nationwide recall of several Hydroxycut products. The FDA received 23 reports indicating that Hydroxycut caused liver-related problems ranging from jaundice to elevated liver enzymes; one patient requiring a liver transplant. According to the press release, “Although the liver damage appears to be relatively rare, FDA believes consumers should not be exposed to unnecessary risk.”

Other Side Effects

The FDA reports that Hydroxycut causes other conditions like seizures, cardiovascular problems and a type of muscle disorder that could lead to kidney failure. “The agency has not yet determined which ingredients, dosages, or other health-related factors may be associated with risks related to these Hydroxycut products,” reports the FDA.


The FDA reports that dietary supplements are products that can contain ingredients like “vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, glandulars, and metabolites.“ Altough the law indicates that dietary supplement manufacturers are responsible for making safe products, they do not need to be reviewed or approved by the FDA. Because of these loose regulatory factors, makers of Hydroxycut have falsified claims. In fact, one study found no significant weight loss difference between people who took Hydroxycut and those who were on a placebo. As a result, instead of claiming in advertisements that Hydroxycut can help you lose weight, ads simply said ''Lose 15 lbs. of fat in 12 weeks with Hydroxycut and exercise!”


In the early 2000s, Hydroxycut was made with ephedra, an ingredient that has since been banned by the FDA. Ephedra is an herb that mimics the effects of amphetamines. It can raise blood pressure and increase risk for heart attack and stroke. In 2003, an article published in the "New York Times" indicated that ephedra was linked to more than 100 deaths.

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