When consumers take dietary supplements to burn fat or speed weight loss, they made be putting themselves at serious risk for liver damage.

In fact, dietary or health supplements – which include herbal products, vitamins, minerals, and any product that is not being marketed as a food or drug – 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 New York Times article

The new research was released by the Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network – established by the National Institutes of Health to track patients who suffer liver damage from certain drugs and alternative medicines.

The investigators looked at 845 patients with severe, drug-induced liver damage who were treated at hospitals in the network from 2004 to 2012 – focusing on cases where investigators ruled out other causes and blamed a drug or a supplement with a high degree of certainty. Those patients included dozens of young men who were sickened by bodybuilding supplements – tests showed that a third of the implicated products contained steroids not listed on their labels.

Consumers looking to build muscle or shed pounds spend a whopping $32 billion on dietary supplements every year, attracted by promises of rapid weight loss, stronger muscles and more.

Unfortunately for consumers, the supplement business is largely unregulated. In recent years, critics have demanded measures that would force companies to prove that their products are safe, genuine and made in accordance with strict manufacturing standards. The New York Times article

Since dietary supplements are not a food or drug, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the manufacturing process. The purity of dietary supplements is determined and reported to the public by the manufacturer only. More Research and Regulation Needed

Since 2008, the FDA has been taking action against companies whose supplements contain prescription drugs and controlled substances. As an  example, the agency recently  recalled OxyElite Pro, a fat burning substance linked to one death and dozens of cases of hepatitis and liver injury in Hawaii and other states. OxyElite Pro Diet Supplement Recall

In the meantime, consumers should be wary of any weight loss and/or body building supplement. While they may make help you look better, they can trigger dangerous consequences.

Read labels carefully – and above all, consult your doctor if you are considering taking any type of supplement. Supplements Linked to Liver Damage

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