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Some weight loss supplements may contain dangerous, hidden ingredients

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Some products claiming to make weight loss a cinch may be tainted with some dangerous and hidden ingredients, according to doctors.

Makers of weight loss supplements have been making big promises to consumers for years, claiming their magic pill could trim a patient down to the perfect shape without lifting a finger.

While some may be safe, others contained dangerous ingredients left off the label.

"A lot of companies, especially overseas, are going to flood the market with unregulated products," said Nissin Nahmias of St. Francis Hospital in Hartford.

An appetite suppressant called "Sibutramine" was a common additive in some of the products that the Food and Drug Administration flagged as potentially hazardous.

The drug had been known to cause heart issues and strokes in some patients. It was banned in the U.S. years ago.

The Ziu Xiu Tang Bee Pollen supplement was one of the most recent drugs to be called out by the FDA.

Not only does the drug contain sibutramine, but also phenolphthalein, another banned ingredient linked to cancer.

"These supplements are disguised as benign interventions," said Nahmias. "They're really not. They are dangerous."

Some users and doctors questioned why there weren't stricter testing standards for the products, especially after numerous companies allowed tainted products to end up on store shelves.

"It is just totally unregulated, and it's a very unsafe," said Nahmias.

The FDA created a database of tainted supplements and it lists hundreds of products. However, the list only named a small fraction of potentially harmful products. That database can be found here.

It said it was simply unable to test all dietary supplements that come onto the market.

Copyright 2014 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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