Wed May 23, 2012 9:16AM
Popular supplements used for weight loss and bodybuilding may cause liver damage, in some cases, so severely that might lead to organ transplantation, warns a review of US national data. Researchers of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) looked at data from the Drug Induced Liver Injury Network, which evaluated patient information from eight sites across the US from 2003 to 2011. Their findings disclosed that of 679 cases of liver injury, 93 (18 percent) were attributed to herbal or dietary supplements. According to the results presented at the Digestive Disease Week meeting in San Diego, among patients who used supplements, 33 percent consumed bodybuilding products, 26 percent took weight loss goods, and the remaining 31 percent used a variety of other types of supplements. “The number of cases in our network has increased over the years,” cautioned Dr. Jose Serrano of NIH. “There were no deaths, but 7 percent of patients needed a liver transplant. These are not trivial consequences.” About 40 percent of people in the US take herbal or dietary supplements. According to estimates, American consumers spent 26.7 billion dollars on supplements in 2009. However, it seems that the people are less likely to be aware about those products’ side effects such as hepatotoxicity or liver injuries. Moreover, compared to medications, the highly marketed supplements are under much less strong regulation imposed by health authorities. “There is so little regulation of the many products on the market,” said study leader Dr. Victor Navarro of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Experts suggest people to read the label’s of supplements carefully and consult with their physician before taking those products and do not assume that they are completely safe. SJM/SJM