Obesity drugs - are the risks worth the minor benefits?
Long-term treatment with the anti obesity drugs orlistat (Xenical or over the counter Alli), sibutramine (Meridia) or rimonabant (Acomplia) produces only minor weight loss while increasing the risks for heart disease and other side effects. Although patients taking these anti obesity drugs may lose a few pounds, in a review of long term studies, orlistat reduced weight by 3 kg, sibutramine by 4 kg, and rimonabant by 4.7 kg. Not only are these weight loss drugs expensive, but the side effects counter any potential weight loss benefit.
Orlistat prevents the absorption of fat. It improves blood pressure and blood sugar control in patients with diabetes but increases gastrointestinal side effects, lowers HDL cholesterol levels, and lowers the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Some claim that it may increase the risk for colon cancer. Sibutramine is chemically related to amphetamines. It lowers HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels but raises blood pressure and pulse rate. Rimonabant improves HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as blood pressure and blood sugar control in diabetic patients but increases mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety. and increases the risk for suicide.
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