With so many diets and promises to help you lose weight and feel better, how do you choose which program will work best for you? To make the decision even more difficult, new studies and rumors abound discussing the possible health risks of certain diets, making it nearly impossible to know whether or not you can trust a diet, let alone if it is effective.
One of these diets is known as the HCG diet, which stands for “human chorionic gonadotropin“, which has recently come under fire with accusations that it can lead to an increase in risk of developing cancer. But how much of this is true, and how much is just another cancer scare purported by the media? And what is the HCG diet, anyway?
The Idea and the Plan
The HCG diet plan involves regular injections of HCG, which is the hormone produced by pregnant women. As a weight loss solution, the diet is extremely effective: some individuals have even reported losing up to a pound a day. Reviews of the diet claim that the HCG hormone injections work to reduce hunger and create more hormones, which can help reduce the risk of weight gain and increase results.
The only effective method of receiving this hormone to reduce weight reduce the risk of obesity is via injection. Any other form of the hormone (including pills, drops, sprays, and other supplements) are unable to be absorbed into the bloodstream fast enough to be effective.
HCG hormone injections also reduce muscle loss while on this diet, which helps further reduce the risk of permanent or otherwise debilitating damage that can result from crash dieting. Indeed, the HCG hormone is adept at building muscle rather than destroying it.
This diet involves three primary phases:
- Phase 1: Over the first couple of days, begin hormone treatment and eat fatty, calorie-rich foods to prepare your body
- Phase 2: For the next twenty days, continue hormone treatment and follow the caloric protocol (more on this below)
- Phase 3: On day 24, stop the hormone treatment and increase calorie, protein, and fat intake slowly
But the radical results have long stood without any medical background, and so the concern for the dramatic increase in weight loss has understandably risen in recent weeks, bringing around the question of its possible cancer causing risks.
Is it Safe?
Increases in research on the HCG diet plan have been seen over the past several years, and seem to be pointing away from increased risks of developing cancer. Indeed, because the injection itself has been approved by the FDA for fertility and other medical treatments, there is no reason to believe that it has cancer forming properties or the risk of increasing your chance of developing cancer.
While this plan may not be highly popularized by modern media, it has been in use for several decades with no overt reason to believe that it has resulted in cancer or an increased risk to develop cancer. In fact, a research study conducted by Dr. Irma Russo, the former Chief of Molecular Endocrinology at Fox Chase Cancer Center, showed groundbreaking results that HCG might actually help to prevent breast cancer and reduce the size of established tumors in current breast cancer patients.
So Why the Fear?
Obesity is a leading cause of many different diseases, including the increased risk of developing some form of cancer, including:
- Kidney cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Colon or Rectal cancer
- Breast cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Endometrial cancer
Obesity itself does not directly cause cancer, however, it does increase the risk of either developing some form of cancer due to poor health, or disguising growing cancer beneath fat layers. Reducing your weight is effective at reducing your risk of developing these cancers and others, as well as reducing your risk of developing other forms of medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Other ways that obesity can lead to the development of cancer is through its propensity to cause inflammation throughout the body, as well as the buildup of toxins and other compounds that contribute to the formation of cancer cells. The existence of numerous fat cells leads to an increase in estrogen production which, in excess, can increase your risk of certain types of cancer (particularly breast and endometrial cancers). An increase in the hormone leptin is also believed to contribute to the growth of cancer cells and is found more abundantly in obese individuals.
How Can You Get Started?
If you are concerned about your weight, or you are looking for a new diet to try and improve your overall health, the HCG plan just might be the right choice for you. However, there are a couple different forms of the plan, and choosing the right one is crucial to your health.
The original plan involved the injections and an extremely strict 500 calorie daily intake. This plan was developed by British doctor Albert Simeons in 1954, and is known colloquially as “The Simeons Protocol“. Today, the Simeons Protocol has been largely discredited, primarily because of its dangerously low caloric intake. But the allure of the plan has not gone away, and more modern medical professionals, such as Dr. Mehmet Oz, claim that a modified version of the plan is both safe and highly effective.
The new plan involves the same injections and a caloric intake of 1500 calories a day, which reduces the risk of catastrophic rapid weight loss. There are still doubts as to the effectiveness and safety of this diet in large part because the injections have not been specifically approved by the FDA for weight loss purposes. However, as mentioned previously, the hormone has been approved for fertility and other medical treatments. So it is not that this is an unknown product, but rather that it is going beyond its FDA approved use.
What Can You Eat?
The primary dietary options for this diet includes eating low starch, low fat, and absolutely no sugar added foods. Primarily, you will focus on recipes that involve limited citrus fruits and apples, leafy greens and other non-starchy vegetables, and lean meats. Trying to stay in the 500 to 1500 caloric range can be difficult, but with the injections and time, your overall hunger should start to decrease, making this plan more doable.
Reducing Obesity and Other Medical Conditions
For individuals concerned about their weight reaching that dangerous mark and possibly leading to the risk of cancer or other chronic medical conditions should consider the HCG plan. The rapid increase in weight loss can help you to reduce your risk of cancer and increase your overall health.
Many people struggle to lose weight, especially when they have reached the level of obesity. Once this point comes, it can be difficult, if not almost impossible, to lose pounds. Obese individuals run the risk of developing numerous health problems, which includes the fear of cancer, and the only way to prevent the risk of cancer as well as other possibly damaging health conditions is to lose weight, and fast.
The science behind the link between body weight and cancer risk still requires more research, but given the data as it stands now, there is no reasonable connection between this hormone dietary plan and cancer. Really, this plan’s ability to shed pounds fast and improve your overall health make it more likely to help reduce the risk of cancer and cancer-forming compounds in the body.