Diet

Looking to Lose a Few Pounds? Do NOT Try This

One woman's weight loss quest prompted her to go to extreme -- and dangerous -- measures

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Been over-stuffing your pie hole this summer? Looking to lose some excess poundage? You're certainly not alone. But, for the love of all that's good and holy, please do not follow in the footsteps of one Iowan woman who deliberately swallowed a parasitic tapeworm to help her slim down.

Yes, this is the stuff that urban legends are made of -- only this time, it's true.

In her quest to lose weight on the quick, the un-named woman, bought a tapeworm off the Internet and gobbled it up. Guess what? She got sick. Super, duper sick. So sick in fact, that her doctor, unsure of how to proceed, contacted the Iowa Department of Public Health. And, as Today explains, the medical director there issued the following warning to health care practitioners; "Ingesting tapeworms is extremely risky and can cause a wide range of undesirable side effects, including rare deaths. Those desiring to lose weight are advised to stick with proven weight loss methods -- consuming fewer calories and increasing physical activity."

Now, while you'd think that that advice seems like little more than common sense, evidently, people are getting desperate enough to take off extra pounds that they're taking unadvisable risks. Risks like ingesting a pill containing a beef tapeworm (or Taenia saginata) that "develops into a 30-foot-long tapeworm in your body. The worm [gets] into your gut -- it's got little hooks on the head -- and it would grab onto your intestine and start growing." (Can I remind you here that people do this voluntarily?)

READ: 11 Easy Ways to Lose Those Last 10 Pounds

How did the Iowan woman -- who exhibited classic signs of taeniasis like abdominal pain and a very upset stomach -- ultimately get treated for this (self-induced) condition? She was prescribed an anti-worm medication that kills the parasite by "causing all the muscles in its body to contract." Oh, and then, she got to poop it out. Yum. She got lucky. Sometimes, bits of the tapeworm break off and become stuck in the appendix, pancreatic or bile ducts and can kill you. Double yum.

"I think that's a red flag -- that [people] would be willing to sacrifice their health in order to lose weight," says New York based dietitian, Elisa Zied. "If you get to the point of desperation where you will try anything, you need to just get back to the basics and really think about what's going on in your life, and how you're eating and how you're being physically active."

I'll eat -- and workout -- to that.

READ: Will Eating Maggots Be the Next Diet Fad? (Count Us Out.)

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