FDA alert: Cancer-causing agent found in Japanese rapid weight loss diet pills yellow and green

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By David Liu, PHD

Sunday April 8, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued two public notices to warn consumers that a carcinogenic compound was found in "Japan Rapid Weight Loss Diet Pills Green" and “Japan Rapid Weight Loss Diet Pills Green,” two products for weight loss sold on various websites, such as www.amazon.com, and distributed by Xiushentang. 

The ingredient of concern is phenolphthalein, which was recognized as a cancer-causing agent by the National Toxicology Program in 2010.  Phenolphthalein has also been found to be genotoxic in that it can damage or cause mutations to DNA.  

Phenolphthalein had been used for centuries as a laxative.  But the FDA has classified phenolphthalein as “not generally recognized as safe and effective”  and the agency said it is not approved for marketing in the United States.

Consumers should stop using these products immediately and throw them away, the FDA advised.  Consumers who have experienced any negative side effects should seek medical attention as soon as possible.  

The FDA noted on its website that a growing number of dietary supplements promoted for sexual enhancement, weight loss and body building have been found to contain undisclosed drugs and chemicals that can potentially cause harm. The agency urged food consumers to exercise caution before purchasing any product in the above categories.

Food consumers should be aware that many dietary supplements including those promoted for sexual enhancement, weight loss and body building have not been tested for their efficacy and safety.  The FDA does not regulate these products.  When a product is found effective in treating or preventing a disease or health condition, this product becomes a drug, which is subject to FDA approval for marketing in the United States if the effectiveness is claimed.

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