The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received a report of a pulmonary embolism occurring in a patient on the hCG diet. According to Christopher Kelly, a spokesman for the FDA, the hormone, which is injected daily as part of an extremely low calorie diet, carries risks of blood clots, depression, headaches and breast tenderness or enlargement.
HCG – or human chorionic gonadotropin - is a naturally occurring pregnancy hormone. It has been made medically available in an injection format by prescription, for treatment of infertility, and off-label for weight loss, and has become popular as part of the hCG diet. The hCG diet requires medical supervision and can cost upwards of $1,000 a month for the hormone and the needles required for self administration.
Recently, 'homeopathic" forms of hCG have begun appearing for sale on the Internet and various health food stores in lozenge and spray format, prompting the FDA to issue a warning in January 2011 that these products are fraudulent and illegal if they claim to have benefit in weight-loss.
And, as the New York Times reports, further to its original warning issued in the mid 1970s - the FDA recently reiterated that hCG packing must state that it has not been shown to increase weight loss, to cause more attractive distribution of fat, or to "decrease hunger and discomfort” from low-calorie diets.