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Snake Oil

Green Coffee Beans Will Mostly Slim Your Wallet

Very few readers of this site are likely to have a good opinion of Dr. Oz (I certainly don’t). And very few readers will be surprised to hear that one of his highly-touted miracle weight loss regiments – green coffee bean extract (GCA) – has turned out to be a load of faked-up nonsense. Retraction Watch has the details, and let’s just say that the clinical trial results were. . .a little bit below the desired standard:

The FTC charges that the study’s lead investigator repeatedly altered the weights and other key measurements of the subjects, changed the length of the trial, and misstated which subjects were taking the placebo or GCA during the trial. When the lead investigator was unable to get the study published, the FTC says that AFS hired researchers Joe Vinson and Bryan Burnham at the University of Scranton to rewrite it. Despite receiving conflicting data, Vinson, Burnham, and AFS never verified the authenticity of the information used in the study, according to the complaint.

Other than that, the study was just fine, I guess. Sheesh. I have to admit, that’s even worse than I had pictured, and that’s saying a lot. Dr. Oz himself, though, will probably not even note this in passing. Too many other miracle cures to peddle, too many TV slots to fill. He’s a busy man, you know.
Update: the show has released a rather bland statement about this whole affair, but has also apparently scrubbed the web site of any mention of green coffee beans, had videos taken down at YouTube, and so on. So that’s all right, then!

22 comments on “Green Coffee Beans Will Mostly Slim Your Wallet”

  1. MLB pitcher and Medicinal Chemist says:

    Anyone who uses the word “miracle” to advertise a product is definitely a montebank.
    Clinic trials please, and some low-p values.

  2. I doubt anything could increase metabolism, unless it somehow affects the hypothalamus (like leptin does), causing the body not to go into “starvation mode” by conserving calories, or by decoupling mitochondrial chemiosmosis.

  3. anonao says:

    No risk for him, loosing a bit of money in the trials, but will get it back with sales anyway. If there is no sanction against false claims, why stopping?

  4. oldnuke says:

    “The Dr from Oz” – Just another media phony.
    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain (or in front of the camera).

  5. OZaintsobad says:

    Do “researchers” in the pharmaceutical industry have any more credibility?
    At least OZ is obviously just making entertainment. Pharmaceutical companies lie and misrepresent while expecting everyone to take them seriously. I’ve been in all too many “science” meetings where the shit was being slung all around the room in an effort to get a buyout or an IPO. Do you think these executive scumbags in corner offices are any better than OZ? maybe much worse. If our industry is to be held in such high regard then why do they choose to staff primarily with people from a country where speaking out can mean imprisonment or death.
    Think about it.

  6. Kumar Rajappan says:

    There is an interesting and funny take on Dr.Oz’s claims by John Oliver in his ‘Last Week Tonight’ show. Why do people discredit themselves so badly when they know that science will expose their claims eventually? It is pure greed for money and attention. In order to get that people will sell anything and support selling anything.

  7. Hap says:

    Uncouplers crank up metabolism (dinitrophenol) and have been discussed here before; I don’t know if the weight loss numbers are pre- or post-mortem, though.
    Of course, uncouplers wouldn’t help (Dr.) Oz – if you kill your target audience, they’re not around to fleece again.

  8. PrairieBoy says:

    Heck even banning the stuff doesn’t work. Story this morning on NPR about how of 274 dietary supplements banned by the FDA between 2009-2012, two-thirds are still available.
    So a scientific dis-proof will have no effect on the gullible.

  9. PharmaHeretic says:

    Sure, that Oz guy is a snake oil salesman- but is the snake oil he is selling any more harmful than drugs like Orlistat or Fenfluramine. Do I have to remind you that both drugs were approved after extensive clinical trials by the FDA. And yes, I know the later of the two was withdrawn a few years after people started suffering from heart valve problems. But don’t forget that they were both approved by the FDA.

  10. qetzal says:

    Tu quoque fallacy, anyone?
    However bad big pharma may be, that doesn’t excuse Dr. Oz or the scammers pushing fraudulent trials to sell magic beans.
    Is the snake oil more harmful? I don’t know, and neither do you, because the magic bean sellers did no useful testing at all. Contrast that to Orlistat & Fenfluramine, which went through extensive clinical trials (by your own admission).
    Yes, pharma has lots of problems, and is sometimes dishonest. But comparing them with this type of snake oil is a category error.

  11. steve says:

    I don’t know why people on this website are so skeptical – you can certainly lose weight with green coffee beans. First you plant them in the ground, then you wait for the stalk to grown, then you climb it, then you run like hell when the giant comes after you. Guaranteed weight loss plan.

  12. MoMo says:

    Dr. Ozco- “Its got what cows crave”

  13. lynn says:

    And green coffee beans are a good source of alpha-galactosidase [I remember my thesis advisor extracting a biiiig batch of beans – -in the days before cloning].

  14. Ted says:
    They had the video for this at one point, but good luck finding anything on the ACS website… Maybe they should add it back in with a big asterisk.
    120 – Coffee bioactives: More than just caffeine
    Joe A Vinson,, Department of Chemistry, University of Scranton, Scranton, PA 18510, United States
    There are now numerous epidemiological studies indicating that coffee consumption, especially decaffeinated coffee, will reduce the risk of all-cause mortality, heart failure and type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. The studies’ results are usually J-curves indicating an optimal consumption of 2-4 cups/day. The question then arises, what is/are the bioactive substance(s) in coffee? Our study of antioxidants in foods and beverages indicated the coffee is the #1 source of polyphenol antioxidants in the US diet and this has been borne out in several European countries. Recent studies indicate that coffee consumption acutely increases human plasma antioxidant capacity. Other investigators have found multiple evidence of chlorogenic acid metabolites and colonic bacterial degradation products in plasma and urine after drinking coffee and green coffee extract. A recent study in India with obese subjects showed a significant weight loss and body fat reduction after consuming capsules containing a green coffee extract which was high in chlorogenic acids. Roasting is known to greatly reduce the levels of these compounds in the beverage coffee. One mechanism for the weight loss is purported to be the inhibition of glucose-6-phosphatase which forces lipids to be used as energy to compensate for the decrease in glucose release from glycogenolysis in the liver. As evidence for coffee’s diabetes and heart disease protection we will present a new human study demonstrating a dose-response green coffee extract inhibition of glucose absorption during a glucose tolerance test in normal subjects. Studies with rats and humans have shown that the caffeine in coffee contributes to hyperglycemia after glucose consumption. The green coffee extract which is very low in caffeine and should be studied with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetic subjects as a means to improve their blood glucose control.
    Tuesday, April 9, 2013 10:20 AM
    Natural Products for Health and Pharmaceuticals and Biotech (08:00 AM – 11:50 AM)
    Location: DoubleTree by Hilton New Orleans
    Room: Madewood A

  15. alig says:

    @9 Yes, but the researchers who faked the clinical trials for Fenfluramine went to jail and the pharma that sold it paid tens of billions in damages. What is going to happens to the green coffee bean researchers?

  16. newnickname says:

    Since the Vinson paper mentions the antioxidants in Green Coffee Bean Extract, I will mention that
    (1) The USDA _previously_ posted a list of ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) values that would be used by companies to promote their products. “Our ORAC is twice as good broccoli!” kind of stuff.
    But the USDA removed the list a couple of years ago “due to mounting evidence that the values indicating antioxidant capacity have no relevance to the effects of specific bioactive compounds, including polyphenols on human health.” See: News/ docs.htm?docid=15866
    (2) 2014 saw the completion of some clinical trials of ANTI-OXIDANT SUPPLEMENTS. I can’t find all the references but I think that ALL of the outcomes were either “no effect” or “worse outcomes”. For example, 46927-antioxidant-supplements-cancer.html
    Prostate cancer was WORSENED with selenium; it was also worsened in a study of Vitamin E.
    “[M]ost large studies that found either no benefit of antioxidants or a harmful effect on people’s cancer risk…” Two explanations offered were (a) supplements are not reaching the desired sites of action [peed down the drain, the wrong site of action?] and (b) “antioxidants do actually stop the damage caused by ROS, but for cancer cells, this only makes them stronger and stimulates growth” which is consistent with cancer cells metabolically acclimating to elevated OS and then gaining the added benefit of exogenous anti-oxidant protection from apoptosis. dn24966-more-harm-than-good-antioxidants-defend-cancer-in-body.html#.VEkApLB4pcQ

  17. Hap says:

    Look at Retraction Watch – the link is in moderation, but it seems that Dr. Oz memory holed his advocacy of green coffee beans (mentions of green coffee beans scrubbed from his site, the YouTube of the episode blocked due to “copyright claims”). Huh.

  18. notveryimportant says:

    DNP is still very much in use in the bodybuilding community, though it’s difficult to gauge exactly how many people actually use it. It doesn’t seem to have caused *too many* deaths recently, but you still have to be a world-class meathead to use it.

  19. cancer_man says:

    Dr. Oz also touted resveratrol. Is that like the green beans also a junk supplement? In 2007, David Sinclair told the treasurer of The Immortality Institute (now Loungecity) that he took 320mg of resveratrol a day, or 5mg per kilo of body weight as the brand, Longevenix (a resveratrol/quercetin blend), sold 40mg tablets.
    I was curious so took about 500mg a day. At first I didn’t notice anything, nor did I expect to. On around day 7, I had some type of reaction where it seemed that my skin crawled a bit. That went away about 18 hours later and never happened again.
    But then my weight began to drop. As an avid non competitive runner and biker I had stayed between 82kg and 84kg but my weight began to steadily drop. I wish I had taken notes, but I didn’t think anything of it first. Then I saw 81kg, 80kg, 79kg… At that point I got concerned. Then 78kg, 77kg…I was thinking of seeing a doctor but my weight stabilized at 77/78kg, which was my fit weight when in my 20s.
    I later went to 200-300mg a day and the weight returned. Maybe it would have returned anyway at 500mg, but I can’t think of anything that could have lowered my weight apart from resveratrol/quercetin
    Since resveratrol is believed to affect the mitochondria, is the weight loss at a certain dose surprising? (Never tried green coffee beans or anything else like that)

  20. Vader says:

    “Do “researchers” in the pharmaceutical industry have any more credibility?”
    Why, yes. Yes, it does.
    I say that as someone whose only connection to the pharmaceuticals industry is a family connection to a bead counter for a very tiny pharmaceuticals outfit. Tiny as in ~20 employees. And “bead” was not a typo; her job was counting down and across in a matrix of tiny plastic beads to identify the one that triggered the X-ray machine in a massive drug target screening test.
    She got tired of it and quit.

  21. sepisp says:

    I bet that when someone actually comes up with a drug that reliably causes weight loss with insignificant side effects, no one will believe him, just because of this crap.

  22. Green coffee beans are the same as regular coffee beans, except that they haven’t been roasted yet. They are high in a substance called Chlorogenic Acid.

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