July 12, 2024

Liver Damage Caused by Dietary Supplements Increases

Consumer Reports says a new study finds that some dietary supplements are causing liver damage. The study looked at cases of liver damage reported to the Drug Induced Liver Injury Network Program at the National Institutes of Health. About 700 cases of liver damage were reported during the study’s time frame. And 130 of those cases were linked to dietary supplements.

Dietary supplements

The study, published in the journal Heptology by Dr. Victor Navarro from the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, states that the greatest risk of liver damage seems to be with bodybuilding and weight loss supplements.  Those products caused about half of the cases of liver damage that were linked to supplements. But other supplements that are sold for depression, sexual performance, and digestive issues can be problematic too.

These supplements can contain many ingredients, so the harmful substance couldn’t always be identified. And some dietary supplements are made with illegal and banned substances that are not listed on the label. That makes it more difficult to identify the dangerous compound.

The researchers were able to identify two substances that can pose unique threats to the liver: anabolic steroids and green tea extract. Anabolic steroids can cause liver damage. Long term use of those compounds are associated with the development of metastatic liver tumors.

Green tea extract is not the same thing as the beverage you brew and drink. Specific compounds found in green tea are extracted and used to make the supplements.

Because of concerns about green tea extract and the liver damage it can cause, France and Spain have removed a weight loss product containing that compound from the market. Consumer reports has told readers to avoid green tea extract.

Chuck Bell, programs director for Consumers Union said in a statement, “As surprising as it may seem, manufacturers are not required to prove to the Food and Drug Administration that their products are safe, or that they’re effective for their advertised use, before they are sold.” That agency and Consumer reports have advocated for years to give the FDA more authority over dietary supplement manufacturers. Bell continued, “The rising number of liver injury cases is yet more evidence that the loose regulation of supplements is putting consumers at risk.”

If you have been sickened or suffered an injury because of a dietary supplement or medication, you can report it to the FDA. Just fill out the FDA’s MedWatch reporting system form online.

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