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500-Calorie Hormone Diet 'Could Be Dangerous,' Critics Say 

Jeffrey Hamilton/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A diet involving hormone injections that has been around for decades is gaining new traction after it was featured on a national talk show.

Dr. Oz featured the 500-calorie diet that relies on injections of the pregnancy hormone HCG on his show. Some critics of the diet are concerned because people are particularly responsive to an issue when they see a doctor on television speaking about it.

The problem, says dietitian Carla Wolper at Columbia University, is that the diet doesn't work and could be dangerous. Professionals that work with people dealing with obesity would never consider using anything like that, she added.

Five hundred calories a day is near starvation, and HCG injections, which Wolper calls an expensive scam, preys on vulnerable people.

The FDA, having approved three HCG products currently on the market, told ABC News in a statement that since the 1970s the "FDA has required labeling of HCG to state that HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. Numerous clinical trials have shown HCG to be ineffectual in producing weight loss."

The FDA also listed the potential health risks associated with HCG use including blood clots, depression, swelling, and the potentially life-threatening condition known as Ovarian hyperstimulation, a syndrome of sudden ovarian enlargement.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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