I’m baaaack! I was AWOL all week – the hubby and I drove to Salinas, CA to attend my mother-in-law’s funeral. Obviously, it wasn’t much of a break, although we did treat ourselves to a mood brightener… on the return trip, we stayed on the Delta King in Old Sacramento and spent a few hours roaming around our old stomping grounds (FYI: we lived in Sacto for 15+ years). That part, at least, was pretty cool.
At any rate, I had a lot of catching up to do on my return… which included catching up with the news. And this post by obesity researcher Travis Saunders contained some interesting – and disquieting - news indeed. According to a new study published in PlosOne, there may be prions - not unlike the kind that cause Mad Cow Disease – in HCG.
So when it comes to body weight, it seems pretty clear that hCG is nothing but a placebo. An expensive placebo that is obtained by misleading pregnant women into donating their urine, but a placebo nonetheless. It couldn’t get any worse for proponents of hCG for weight loss, right?
Actually, it could.
It turns out that urine-derived fertility treatments like hCG could transmit prions, the misfolded proteins responsible for brain-wasting diseases like mad cow disease, and it’s human equivalent, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
These findings come from a paper published in PLoS One earlier this week. As I mentioned in passing up above, hCG and other gonadotropin hormones are derived from the urine of pregnant women to be used as a legitimate fertility treatment. In this new paper Alain Van Dorsselaer and colleagues examined hCG and these other urine-derived treatments for the presence of non-gonadotropin protein. They found that prion protein was a major source of non-gonadotropin protein in urine-derived hCG. In other words, prions have made their way from the donors into the hCG.
Is it a cause for panic? No… certainly not yet, at any rate. For one thing, there are no known cases of prion-associated illness linked to either fertility treatments or HCG injections for weight loss. And for another: this finding has yet to be replicated. But it is, as Travis indicates, a potential concern. A lot of commercial HCG is human-derived, and is pooled from thousands of donors. As such, the potential for disease transmission certainly exists.