Bleach: Not a cure for obesity

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I came across a fascinating (and horrifying) post yesterday on fellow PLoGster David Kroll’s blog Take as Directed.  The post was about a product called Miracle Mineral Solution, which is touted as a cure for everything from AIDS and malaria to (you guessed it) obesity.  Now it’s not uncommon to come across weight loss products that make miraculous claims, which is a problem even when the products are likely to have relatively minor side effects.  But sometimes these products pose dangerous health risks, and this is one of those situations.  Why?  Because when taken as directed, Miracle Mineral Solution is industrial bleach.  Seriously.  Chemistry is not my area of expertise, so rather than take my word for it, let’s see what the FDA has to say about MMS:

The product instructs consumers to mix the 28 percent sodium chlorite solution with an acid such as citrus juice. This mixture produces chlorine dioxide, a potent bleach used for stripping textiles and industrial water treatment. High oral doses of this bleach, such as those recommended in the labeling, can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and symptoms of severe dehydration.

Or consult Health Canada, which has received reports of serious adverse events (emphasis mine):

Health Canada advises that using this product as directed may cause serious health problems. Ingestion of water treated with Miracle Mineral Solution (28% sodium chlorite solution) has been associated with two adverse reactions in Canada, including one life threatening reaction.

Ingesting these products poses a risk to human health. It is important to note that the Miracle Mineral Solution product label and the former website claim that the product contains sodium chlorite. However, the Miracle Mineral Solution product is not authorized for sale as a drug in Canada.

Not surprisingly, there is an MMS recall in both the US and in Canada, although “treatment” with MMS continues in Africa, its “creator” claims to currently be using it in South America, and it appears to be pretty easy to come by in the UK and Europe as well (the websites are easy to find, but I’d rather not give them any link love).

I am pretty confident that this is the most disgusting weight loss/health product that Peter and I have ever featured on Obesity Panacea.  There have been scams like Acai Berry in the past, but those products were going to hurt your wallet more than anything else.  As fellow PLoGster Deborah Blum points out, even if drinking bleach does not itself kill an individual, it is almost certainly going to result in severe health problems, and likely exacerbate whatever condition they hoped to cure by consuming MMS in the first place.

So just to recap – industrial bleach is not the cure for obesity… or malaria, or AIDS, or any of the other diseases that MMS claims to cure.  And since this dangerous concoction is still available in Europe and most of the Southern Hemisphere, please spread the word.


Bonus MMS Reading:

David Kroll has an excellent summary of the MMS issue in this post, which also includes a roundup of MMS related posts from around the blogosphere, which is where I found all of the links for this post (including the original Guardian article that got the ball rolling).  For some entertainment, you can check out MMS “creator” Jim Humble’s rebuttal to the FDA, which eventually morphs into the most fascinating sales pitch you will ever see (Spoiler Alert: it involves the church that he created to spread the word about MMS, and how you can become a minister of said church if you are willing to pay for his “training” sessions…).  And be sure to check out Deborah Blum’s post on the recent history of bleach as a poison over at Speakeasy Science.

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