Dietary Aid Linked to Increase in Liver Damage Among Users

New data suggests that dietary supplements account for almost 20% of all hospitalized patients who suffer from drug-related liver injuries. A decade ago, this number was at only 7% according to an analysis conducted by the national network of liver specialists. Dietary supplements such as green tea extract can cause serious side effects that include yellowing skin and eyes and liver damage. The adverse effects that can result from taking certain dietary supplements can be so severe that liver failure and / or death can occur. While the majority of patients make full recoveries after they cease using these supplements and begin treatments, there are cases that don’t end as well.

A statement from the director of the liver, digestive and metabolic disorders laboratory at Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, NC puts it best: “It’s really the Wild West…When people buy these dietary supplements, it’s anybody’s guess as to what they’re getting.” The liver damage that can result from the use of such products is serious enough to require monthly visits to the doctor for assessment of liver functioning, restrictions on outdoor activities, and limits on the patient’s exertion.

It’s estimated that Americans spend about $32 billion a year on dietary supplements, pouring money into a business that is primarily unregulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Consumers are lured into purchasing various types of powders and pills that claim to aid in weight loss, fight the common cold, build muscle, and more. Unfortunately, these supplements are not as strictly tested for safety as are prescription medications. The result? Liver injuries and death among some users.

Under the provisions of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, the FDA is prevented from approving or even evaluating most of the dietary supplements that are sold online and in stores nationwide. By virtue of this act, the FDA can only remove a dietary supplement from store shelves after consumers have been harmed. Essentially, the dietary supplement industry operates on the honor system, thus allowing for adulterated and mislabeled products to be put on the shelves for sale. Bodybuilding supplements are currently believed to be the biggest culprits of the liver damages that have resulted among dietary supplement users in the U.S.

According to estimates from the FDA, at least 70% of all dietary supplement companies are not currently following the basic standards of quality control that exist to regulate the industry. Standards that could help prevent the adulteration of these products are being neglected. Considering the fact that approximately 55,000 supplements are sold in the country every year, this means that only 0.3% are closely studied and examined for potentially unsafe side effects, according to the chief of infectious disease at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Problems with Green Tea Extract Supplements

Since 2008, the FDA has actively been taking action against companies that produce supplements containing controlled substances and / or prescription drugs. One of the most frequently used products among users is green tea extract, which has proven to be unsafe for some consumers. The extract contains catechins – a group of antioxidants that reportedly increase the metabolism – making the product marketable as a fat-burning supplement for users.

Highly concentrated, most green tea extract pills contain amounts of catechins that are many times more than that of a single cup of green tea. High doses of catechins have proven to be toxic to the liver, and the liver injuries that have been connected to the use of herbal supplements include severe liver damage requiring transplantation. Clearly, just because something is “natural” does not mean that it is completely safe for use.

If you or someone you love suffered from the use of a dietary supplement such as green tea extract, don’t wait to contact The Senators Firm for legal representation. We handle all types of dangerous drug cases, and we are prepared to review your case during a free consultation with an attorney at our office. We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (949) 557-5800.