More than half of dietary supplements analyzed by researchers with the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia contained ingredients that are not listed on their labels, and some of these hidden ingredients can be dangerous to consumers.
Diet pills and bodybuilding supplements are among the categories of dietary supplements that most often contain undeclared and possibly dangerous ingredients. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found many weight loss supplements laced with banned stimulants or drugs not approved for use in the U.S. because they carry serious cardiovascular risks or are suspected carcinogens. Many supplements for bodybuilding or athletic performance have been found to contain anabolic steroids and other ingredients that pose health problems to users like liver damage.
A chemical analysis found hidden ingredients in 80 percent of bodybuilding and performance enhancement supplements and 72 percent of weight loss aids. More than 20 percent of liver damage cases reported to the U.S. Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network are blamed on dietary supplements, researchers noted.
For the study, Einstein Medical Center researchers analyzed more than 200 supplements linked to liver injury from the network to see if they contained the ingredients listed on their labels. Only 90 of the 203 supplements tested had accurate labels.
In one case, researchers found a bodybuilding supplement that caused serious liver injury to one man contain tamoxifen, an anti-estrogen drug typically used to prevent recurrence of breast cancer.
Sonya Angeline, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said that consumers should use caution when choosing to take dietary supplements because many sold for weight loss or muscle building “tend to be contaminated the most, and usually they’re contaminated with unlabeled drugs because that’s how you get a quick effect.”