About 23,000 people are sent to the emergency room each year because of adverse reactions to dietary supplements, and the three main categories of supplements that cause harm include products to boost athletic performance or body building, weight loss, and sexual enhancement, according to S. Bryn Austin, a professor with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Supplements in these three categories are “the most lawless of all the categories and where most problems turn up,” Austin said.
Previous analyses of hospital data from 2004 to 2013 to identify which dietary supplements were most to blame for sending people to the ER have singled out diet pills, sexual enhancement products and body building supplements as the most dangerous because many have been adulterated, meaning they are tainted with hidden pharmaceuticals or banned drugs.
For example, weight loss supplements have been found to contain sibutramine, a stimulant that was pulled off the U.S. market in 2010 for cardiovascular risks. Sexual enhancement drugs often contain the same active ingredients as the prescription erectile dysfunction drugs Viagra or Cialis, which can interact with nitrates and cause a life threatening drop in blood pressure. Athletic performance and body building supplements can contain steroids and other stimulants which are not only banned by many professional sports organizations, but pose health risks as well.
Between 2009 and 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled 274 dietary supplements, all of which contained banned drugs. A 2014 report revealed that more than two-thirds of those supplements still contained illegal drugs six months after the recall was initiated.
“We don’t have any clear evidence that (supplements) are beneficial,” Austin said. Consumers “should be leery that they could be putting themselves at risk.”
Source: Business Insider