HGC diet sparks controversy; doctors debate efficacy, health risks
A new diet is stirring up quite a controversy. The HCG diet involves using a pregnancy hormone and severe caloric restrictions to lose weight.
Dieters say they are shedding pounds in just weeks, but some medical professionals question whether it's safe.
The regimen requires dieters to inject the HCG pregnancy hormone every day and eat only 500 calories.
According to a Gulda Caba, a psychologist, the pounds melt away.
"This is an opportunity to train the body to eat smaller portions, eat healthy foods, and learn what works for you," Caba said.
She started the HCG diet when she couldn't shed the 40 pounds she put on during menopause. She says HGC helped her lose 23 pounds lighter.
Victoria Pigault said she has had a similar experience with HGC. "I am thoroughly happy with myself," she said. "Now I am comfortable." Pigault used a homeopathic derivative of the pregnancy hormone, which comes in drops. The diet's big claim is that HCG tricks the body into thinking it's pregnant, so the body acts as if there is a fetus and burns fat, not muscle.
Fans argue it curbs appetite despite the fact that actual pregnant women are usually hungry. Pigault says she lost 45 pounds in 80 days, more than a half pound a day.
"I may not be a size zero but I never wanted to be," Pigault said.
But several doctors, endocrinologists, and cardiologists told ABC News there is no scientific evidence HCG works for weight loss. The method, which is not an FDA-approved weight loss drug, also has risks, doctors say, including blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, depression and headaches.
"This isn't just nonsense, this is dangerous," said Dr. David Katz, an associate adjunct professor in Public Health Practice at the Yale University School of Medicine. He called it called it playing Russian Roulette with your life.
But some doctors say it can be effective, including Dr. Lionel Bisson, who prescribes the hormone to his patients.
"I've seen people lose weight, people who failed diets," said Dr. Bisson, author of "The Cellulite Cure".
Dr. Bisson, who is in New York, charges more than $1,100 for the exam, a month's supply of the hormone, syringes, and follow-up blood work.
The FBA confirms it is legal for doctors prescribe HGC, but the agency strongly warns against the homeopathic versions, like sprays or drops that sold over the Internet or in health food stores. If the products claims they'll help you lose weight, that is illegal, according to the FDA.
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