Recent Study Suggests Bodybuilding Supplements May Increase Risk of Liver Damage

Bodybuilding and weight-loss supplements have once again found themselves at the center of a recent influx of allegations. While their current track-record acknowledges a downward trend in both safety and efficacy, a recent study condemns them for their association with severe, life-threatening complications. Subsequently, a small new study suggests that these products are more likely to cause significant liver damage than other dietary supplements in the industry.

Body building supplements have become a topic of great concern within the healthcare community. As their names suggest, bodybuilding supplements often offer consumers a temporary boost in energy in order to provide the body with the ability to maximize workout efficiency. Doing so allows consumers to gain the most optimal workout in a short period of time, leading to the addition of body mass and strength. However, many bodybuilding supplements have recently become associated with the development of severe side effects.

One ingredient in particular has become the center of a massive controversy involving the dietary supplement industry and subsequent regulatory agencies. 1,3 dimethylamylamine, otherwise known as DMAA, has been used in a number of dietary supplements. However, the ambiguous ingredient has recently been linked to a number of severe, life-threatening complications.

Contributing to the criticism, are claims that DMAA-containing products pose as a serious health risk. Substantiating such a claim, are the deaths of 2 U.S. soldiers believed to be the victims of DMAA. According to an Army representative, DMAA has been identified in the toxicology reports of two soldiers who suffered fatal heart attacks during physical exercise. In addition to the two deaths, the representative acknowledged a possible link between products with DMAA and an influx of kidney failure, seizures, loss of consciousness and rapid heartbeat in other military personnel.

Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, acknowledged that “what we’ve seen is that DMAA in supplements has been connected to situations where the heart has gone suddenly into failure due to excessive stress.”

In response to these adverse events, and others related to the use of bodybuilding supplements, researchers have begun to study the affects of these products. In a recent study, funded by the U.S. Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network, researchers looked at 109 cases of patients who appeared to have suffered liver injury because of dietary supplements. Upon the initial analysis, researchers involved in the trial acknowledged that bodybuilding and weight-loss products are the types of dietary supplements most likely to cause liver injury. While the results have yet to be released, they are expected to be on display this week at the Digestive Disease Week meeting in San Diego.

Their findings are expected to play a significant role in the future regulatory practices of dietary supplements. “There is so little regulation of the many products on the market,” study leader Dr. Victor Navarro, professor of medicine, pharmacology and experimental therapies at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, said in a meeting news release. “We couldn’t possibly begin to figure out which products to target first without doing this research.”

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