You want to lose some weight. You hear about this stuff at the drugstore that melts pounds away. What's the harm? Ellen Ruppel Shell investigates the current crop of diet pills that are so tempting, and so potentially deadly.

Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect Steve Bechler knew he had to drop a few pounds if he was going to break into the major leagues. So when he cracked open the bottle of Xenadrine RFA-1, swallowed three pills, and reported for spring training at Fort Lauderdale Stadium last February, he figured he was doing the right thing, just taking care of business.

Twenty-four hours later, Bechler was dead. He left behind a pregnant wife, a slew of grieving fans, and a raging controversy over an herbal supplement taken by millions of Americans.

Bechler never stood a chance. Desperate to lose weight quickly, he was precisely the sort of person supplement-makers target. Plagued with high blood pressure and abnormal liver function, the 23-year-old athlete was also precisely the sort of person most endangered by their wares.

Diet Supplements 101


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