10 December 2008

Weight loss supplement & DNA damage

You will do anything to lose weight, right? But would you consider taking a weight loss supplement that may damage your DNA?

You will do anything to lose weight, right? But would you consider taking a weight loss supplement that may damage your DNA?

Before you buy your next "miracle" weight loss product, check the label for chromium picolinate, a popular supplement for promoting weight loss and building muscle that may also cause mutations in your DNA.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama in America, has found that consumption of chromium picolinate by fruit flies led to sterility and lethal genetic mutations.

The study findings were published in the advance online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Four generations of fruit flies
It's not only "weight-conscious" fruit flies that are at risk. Past studies have also found that chromium picolinate might cause DNA damage in rats.

According to study co-author Dr John Vincent, researchers were unsure whether the DNA damage caused was mild enough to be repaired by the body itself or whether the mutations were serious enough to be passed onto offspring.

In order to answer this question, Vincent's team raised four generations of fruit flies on a diet containing chromium picolinate. They then compared the survival rate with a group of fruit flies that were not given the supplement. In chromium-fed flies, 20 to 30 percent fewer flies reached adulthood than flies in the normal group.

In a separate experiment, Vincent's team fed the supplement to male flies only. The researchers then recorded the effect on the flies' grandchildren. They found that two generations down the line, there were very high rates of mutations. There were less male grandchildren and an increased number of sterile females.

Is chromium picolinate safe?
Chromium picolinate is at present regarded as a "safe" supplement and the US Food and Drug Administration does not demand any testing of dietary supplements before they reach the shelves. Studies like this one, may make the FDA re-think their position.

In response to the study, Dr John Hathcock, vice president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) in America, issued an announcement that downplayed Vincent's findings and said that the study provides "no meaningful conclusions that change the weight of the strong scientific evidence for safety in humans".

Hathcock revealed that after reviewing other relevant studies, there appeared to be no adverse effects in people consuming 1 000 micrograms of chromium picolinate per day.

Even though there may be a difference when it comes to comparing the effects of the supplement on humans and fruit flies, Vincent believes that the study results should be treated as a warning sign. – (Health24)

Read more:
Diet pills can be deadly (part 1)
Diet products - a death wish?


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