A new study suggests that herbal remedies and dietary supplements that are supposed to improve health are actually causing liver damage. According to Consumer Reports, these are supplements that you could easily buy over the counter in your neighborhood drug store or online. The study also found that injuries linked to those supplements are rising at an alarming rate jumping from 7 percent of all drug-induced liver injuries in 2004 to about 20 percent in 2014.
The liver’s function is to help your body extract the nutrients it needs from food and eliminate toxic substances from your blood. For the purpose of this study, researchers examined cases of liver damage reported to the Drug Induced Liver Injury Network, which is a program funded by the National Institutes of Health. About 700 cases of liver damage were reported to the program during the period of the study. And 130 of those were related to herbal or dietary supplements.
Steroids and Green Tea Extract
The greatest risk appears to be with regard to weight loss and bodybuilding supplements, according to the report, which was published in the journal Hepatology. These types of products were responsible for about half of the cases of liver damage linked to supplements. However, other types of supplements that people take for issues ranging from depression to increasing sexual performance have also been implicated. Since these supplements contain multiple ingredients, researchers struggled to pinpoint the harmful substance.
But two substances did stand out as potential culprits – anabolic steroids that are sometimes illegally added to the supplements and green tea extract, which is found in numerous weight loss products. Researchers were particularly taken aback by the danger posed by green tea extract, which are not actually extracted from tea leaves as one might think, but concentrated amounts of certain compounds contained in green tea. Concerns about liver damage from green tea extract have prompted France and Spain to remove them from the market.
Be Wary with Supplements
It may surprise many to learn that manufacturers of supplements and similar products are not required under the law to get them approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The fact that these products are marketed as “natural” or “no side effects” increases the danger level. Not only are many of these products dangerous, but as we see in the case of bodybuilding and weight loss products, they can be deadly. The rising number of liver damage cases linked to these supplements shows that lack of regulation in this industry is seriously hurting consumers.