Dietary supplements can harm liver

true or false?

Dietary supplements account for nearly 20 percent of drug-related liver injuries that turn up in hospitals, up from 7 percent a decade ago, according to an analysis by a national network of liver specialists.

The research included only the most severe cases of liver damage referred to a representative group of hospitals, and the investigators said they were undercounting the actual number of cases.

While many patients recover once they stop taking the supplements and receive treatment, a few require liver transplants or die because of liver failure. Naïve teenagers are not the only consumers at risk, the researchers said. Many are middle-aged women who turn to dietary supplements that promise to burn fat or speed up weight loss.

“It’s really the Wild West,” said Dr. Herbert L. Bonkovsky, the director of the liver, digestive and metabolic disorders laboratory at Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, N C “When people buy these dietary supplements, it’s anybody’s guess as to what they’re getting.”

Dr Victor Navarro, the chairman of the hepatology division at Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia, said that while liver injuries linked to supplements were alarming, he believed that a majority of supplements were generally safe. Most of the liver injuries tracked by a network of medical officials are caused by prescription drugs used to treat things like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, he said.

But the supplement business is largely unregulated. In recent years, critics of the industry have called for measures that would force companies to prove that their products are safe, genuine, and made in accordance with strict manufacturing standards before they reach the market.

Comments (+)