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Weight-loss compound may cause arrhythmia

From Orlando, Fla., at a meeting of the American Heart Association

Herbal weight-loss drug Metabolife 356 can cause subtle changes in a person's heartbeat, the kind of alterations that sometimes lead to dangerous heart arrhythmias, researchers say.

Metabolife 356 is the best-selling weight-loss supplement sold in the United States, accounting for roughly half of that market and garnering nearly $7 billion in annual sales for its maker, Metabolife International of San Diego. The drug contains 18 herbal ingredients, including ephedra, an herb that has been linked to dozens of fatalities.

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