Justin Bieber is hyping a body building supplement by a celebrity doctor with a long history of sketchy products that have provoked lawsuits and federal investigations. (Photo: Getty)

Justin Bieber is hyping a body building supplement by a celebrity doctor with a long history of sketchy products that have provoked lawsuits and federal investigations. (Photo: Getty)

Justin Bieber has taken another turn down the low road by getting into bed with shady celebrity diet doctor Carlon Colker. Bieber has been hyping Colker’s latest “miracle” supplement MYO-X, to his 59 million Twitter fans.

In a tweet today (Jan 7.) Bieber wrote: “Myo-x supplement helped me with my workouts thanks Carlon Colker.”

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Bieber is taking a page out of Kim Kardashian’s playbook. The reality television personality routinely hypes products, including diet pills, to her unsuspecting Twitter fans.

But Bieber has gone one step further by hyping Colker’s sketchy product.

If Colker’s name sounds vaguely familiar that’s because he was the “attending physician” who claimed in 2008 that actor Jeremy Piven was too stricken by mercury poisoning to continue his contractual obligations to a Broadway production of Speed the Plow.

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Piven abruptly left the play two months before its end, leaving stars like Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss hanging in the lurch.

Colker claimed Piven got sick by eating too much sushi and taking Chinese herbal supplements laced with poisonous mercury.

The National Fisheries Institute, which represents the seafood industry, issued a stern statement saying “no peer reviewed medical journal has ever published any evidence of a case of methylmercury poisoning caused by the normal consumption of commercial seafood in the U.S.”

In addition, so-called “Chinese” herbal supplements laced with mercury have been outlawed in the United States since the 1930s.

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But Colker insisted on his diagnosis. The controversy shed light on his controversial career of endorsing diet supplements and even a “love potion.” His actions led to lawsuits and were related to sanctions by the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC issued a cease and desist order against the airing of television infomercials featuring Colker, in which he hawked a “love potion” without revealing that he was behind the “clinical research” proving its purported effectiveness.

Carlon Colker has had a controversial history of promoting sketchy health supplements. Justin Bieber is promoting his latest to his Twitter followers. (Photo: ScreenCap)

Carlon Colker has had a controversial history of promoting sketchy health supplements. Justin Bieber is promoting his latest to his Twitter followers. (Photo: ScreenCap)

A 2004 investigation by Forbes magazine, entitled “Poison Pills,” detailed the development and marketing of a diet supplement known as ephedra, in which Colker was a player.

Cytodyne, a company that produced diet supplements based on the drug, retained Colker’s health clinic, Peak Wellness in Greenwich, Conn. to conduct a “clinical study” on the effectiveness of the ephedra-laced supplement Xenadrine RFA-1.

After Colker produced a favorable study, Cytodyne put him on the payroll for $5,000 a month to answer questions and promote the study’s findings.

But ephedra had serious side-effects that Colker’s research allegedly played down or failed to note.

In 2003, Baltimore Oriole pitcher Steven Bechler died suddenly. Cytodyne’s Xenadrine RFA-1 supplement was found in his locker.

Bechler’s autopsy showed that ephedra toxicity contributed to his death, leading to congressional hearings, according to Forbes. The federal Food & Drug Administration banned ephedra in 2004.

In all, the speed-like stimulant was linked to more than 150 deaths, according to The New York Daily News.

An avalanche of product liability and wrongful death lawsuits followed Bechler’s death and the death of high school football player Sean Riggins, who suffered a heart attack while taking an ephedra-based supplement. Colker was named in several of them.

Carlon Colker's latest miracle product is a body building supplement.

Carlon Colker’s latest miracle product is a body building supplement.

In one case, a class action filed against Cytodyne, San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald Styn ruled in 2003 that California consumers had been defrauded by ads claiming weight-loss benefits and ordered the company to pay $12.5 million in restitution to consumers.

Styn also found that Colker’s claims about the drug “lacked credibility.”

Colker also provided the “clinical study” of another supplement called the “V-Factor Natural Pack,” manufactured by a company called Vital Basics, Inc. The company was smacked by the FTC over false advertising and promotion of V-Factor and another product called “Focus Factor.”

Colker’s study was used extensively in promoting V-Factor as “safe and effective at improving sexual response and function,” although the study never actually concluded that.

Colker was not a party to the FTC action and has consistently denied manipulating data in his research. But he actively promoted the substance in infomercials.

After his legal problems and FTC run-ins Colker didn’t fold up shop, he merely moved on.

The former body builder and celebrity physician is now a motivational speaker who has promoted wellness with such celebrities as Christie Brinkley, and former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal. The Bieber alliance, however, is a new twist.

The drug Bieber is hyping is yet another “supplement” aimed at body builders. Reviews are all over the map and there is no credible scientific evidence that it works–outside of Colker’s claims, of course.

According to the product’s marketing:

MYO-X represents a major advancement is muscle building science. For decades researchers have been diligently looking for a way to inhibit the production of myostatin, a natural occurring regulatory protein responsible for limiting muscle growth in humans. Fueled by the widely held belief in scientific and medical communities that myostatin inhibition represents, by far, the most powerful strategy for promoting dramatic muscular gains.

And who’s clinical study would that be? According to the product’s fine print:

Carlon Colker, M.D. and a team of scientists from around the world have isolated and identified a natural, bio-active compound that is produced through a highly controlled, proprietary High Grade Handling process. This patent pending compound, MyoT12, (the active ingredient in MYO-X) functions as a modulator and inhibitor of myostatin activity and has been validated in a clinical study to reduce serum myostatin levels an average of 46% among study subjects in just 12 to 18 hours with a single serving.”

Finally there’s this disclaimer: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Indeed, side effects have already been discovered. A study in mice performed at the University of Michigan, suggests that while Myostatin inhibitors may bulk up muscles, they may cause small, brittle tendons. The study was published in the Jan. 8, 2008 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“When you lift weights at the gym, muscle tissue gets damaged. That sets off the release of Myostatin, starting a process that clears away damaged proteins and sets the stage for muscle rebuilding”, the study’s first author, Christopher L. Mendias, said in a statement.

“It also appears to make tendons bigger and more flexible,” says Mendias.

There are, however already signs of a nascent black market for what might become another illegal performance-enhancing drug in organized sports, the study’s author noted.

They got that right.

Oddly, when Colker was asked about myostatin inhibitors in an NPR interview last year, he warned that inhibitors would be abused. “There’s no question in my mind,” he said.

Indeed, Colker must be anticipating the product liability lawsuits to come. The most frequent legal defense of supplement makers is to claim users aren’t following directions when they take the substance.

But users of MYO-X probably don’t have to worry about that. It almost certainly doesn’t inhibit myostatin.

The active ingredient in the supplement is supposed to be a miracle extract from egg yolk. In reality, the substance is just protein, the kind you can get from any number of products, or be eating more fish, meat and yes, eggs.

But that fact that it’s just another protein supplement doesn’t mean it’s safe.

“Eating more protein than your body needs can interfere with your health and fitness goals in a number of ways, including weight gain, extra body fat, stress on your kidneys, dehydration, and leaching of important bone minerals,” according to health references.

According to a 2006 article in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism, eating more than 200 grams of protein daily can result in an excess in the body of amino acids, ammonia and insulin. The effects are observable after just one meal of 40 grams of protein or more, but the problems only becomes severe or chronic over time, the article noted.

The effects of excessive protein in a diet have been long known.

“I don’t think there’s any evidence to support [the notion] that adding high amounts of protein plays an important role for athletic training, although they buy [protein supplements] like crazy and waste their money, Steven Heymsfield, a medical doctor told WebMD in a 2000 article.

“If you take in too little protein, you lose body protein. If you take in too much, you just burn it as calories.” said Heymsfield, a professor of medicine at Columbia University in New York City and at the Obesity Research Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital.

According to the FDA there is no effective myostatin inhibitor drug on the market right now. Approval of the first effective drug is still a few years away.

But you wouldn’t know that according to Colker. Check out his video below. The drug sells for as much as $90 a bottle.

As for Bieber, it’s just sad that he’s exploiting his fans.