Weight loss pills may contain dangerous ingredients, including thyroid hormones

A recent study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology shows that so-called "natural" slimming therapies were suspected in 66 poisonings. UPI.com reports that the weight-loss products were often laced with thyroid hormones, resulting in severe thyroid disruption.

Dr Magdalene Tang of the Toxicology Reference Laboratory at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong reports medical records show eight cases where people became severely ill, and in one case the person died.

Tang and colleagues looked at the ingredients of 81 slimming products taken by poisoning victims. The researchers found 12 different agents in these products that were either undeclared weight-loss drugs, unlicensed chemical derivatives of licensed drugs, banned drugs, drugs used for an inappropriate indication or a thyroid hormone.

"People like the idea of using a natural remedy because they think that if it is natural, it will be safe. There are two problems here," Tang told the news source. "Firstly not all natural agents are harmless, and secondly the remedies also contain potentially harmful manufactured drugs."

Tang said the findings raise worldwide concerns - especially since these products may be available online to those living in regions with tighter regulatory controls.