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The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Letter to the Editor
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Weight loss pills ?the easy way out?

Humans are often known to take the easy way out. When put in front of many of life’s hurdles, people often look for the quick way to get out of a situation. This theory also applies to dieting where many turn to taking diet pills to possibly increase/e their weight lost when in the end loosing weight through hard work and self-control is much more rewarding.

About 12 million Americans use ephedrine to help shed the weight that could be lost by hard work and time. Stimulants such as ma huang (most commonly known as ephedra) can seriously affect the cardiovascular system and cause high blood pressure, insomnia, agitation, restlessness, heart attack and arrhythmias.

These symptoms do not affect every user but can raise blood pressure, heart rate and restricts blood vessels. According to a Glamour Magazine (Feb,’03), the drug is more likely to have an effect when combined with caffeine, guarana, kola nut and citrus aurantium.

The FDA reported 34 deaths and 800 medical and psychiatric problems between 1993 and 1997. Since 1996 the FDA has received more than 650 reports and some deaths due to the drug.

Although users are required to be 18 to buy such products as Xenadrine, Metabolife and Hydroxycut, teens still take the pills. Many underage teenagers who want the drug coax a friend or a family member to make the purchase for them.

The FDA keeps drugs with Ephedra on the market because of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. This means producers are allowed to put all herbal supplements on the market even if it exposes a danger to consumers.

While using an over-the-counter dietary supplement that contained Ephedrine, Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect, Steve Bechler, died of heat stroke suffered during the first day of spring training on Feb. 17.

According to Broward County medical examiner, Joshua Perper, Bechler died of complications of heatstroke. Ephedrine has been linked to heatstroke and heart trouble. However, conclusive evidence will not be available for two weeks. Currently Major League Baseball does not ban the substance but the NFL and the Olympics do.

Within the past couple of years a new trend of “organic” products have flooded the market. Now within many grocery stores, products from apples to milk are now to some more appealing when labeled as being “organic or natural”.

Many companies that produce diet products are also labeling their products as being natural, which leads the consumer to believe they are not that harmful to take.

If appropriate funding were put towards scientific studies directed at ephedra instead of fighting the system, the availability of ephedra would not be a threat.

Last year Metabolife faced a U.S. Department of Justice investigation. Metabolife voluntarily handed over more than 13,000 “call records” that the company recorded. In these records there were three deaths, 24 strokes, 20 heart attacks, 40 seizures, 465 consumers with chest pains, 966 consumers who experienced heart-rhythm disturbances.

Additionally there are hundreds of claims of high blood pressure and psychiatric symptoms, according to congressional analysis and Glamour Magazine (Feb,’03).

The truth is many teenagers (not only girls) are taking this product to loose weight. Many think that it has caffeine in it and will make their metabolism go faster so they can lose weight. Some teenagers are under the false impression that when taking the pill exercise is not needed for it to work.

When talking to teenagers about the potential dangers in ephedra many seem to think the chance of anything happening to them is slim and unrealistic.

There are dangers in everything that is done from snowboarding, to driving, to taking a diet pill. Even though many die from even taking over the counter medication such as asprin during the year, if you work out and watch what you eat the end results will be much more rewarding than using a drug to aid you.

For more information on the affects of Ephedra visit www.webmd.com.

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