Is HCG Diet a Healthy Way to Lose Weight?

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Collins American Institute for Cancer Research

Q. Are the claims of amazing weight loss on the HCG diet really true?

A. The HCG diet, also known as the Simeons therapy, has two components: One is a 500-calorie diet (occasionally increased to 800 calories a day) and the other is use of HCG hormones, usually by injection or drops taken under the tongue.

HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a hormone secreted by the placenta during pregnancy and obtained from the urine of pregnant women. A study in the 1950s suggested that HCG along with this very low calorie diet allowed weight loss without hunger and promoted fat loss without muscle loss. However, an analysis of all available research on HCG-aided weight loss found only two of the 14 studies showed benefit.

One of these two lasted only three weeks and the other stopped at six weeks. The remaining 12 randomized trials showed that weight loss with the use of HCG was no greater than with the use of a placebo or with the diet only.

According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, there is no evidence that HCG supports weight loss and although it may be safe for use under very close medical supervision on a short-term basis, it does increase production of androgens (male hormones), so it could promote development of prostate cancer.

That leaves the question of whether diets supplying only 500 calories per day promote long-term weight control. Cutting calories so drastically will almost certainly lead to weight loss if the diet is followed, and under close medical supervision it can be safe for those who are extremely obese. …