An investigation shows the damage caused in this field, and there are even patients who, after consuming them, require transplants. It was carried out by experts from Australia, who are calling for stricter regulation of these types of slimming and muscle-building drugs.
A revealing piece of research has been published by scientists in Australia. It focuses on serious liver damage, including hospitalisations and liver transplants, caused by dietary supplements and herbal products to lose weight or promote muscle growth or weight loss.
These pathologies, they say, are on the rise, according to the report.
The research focused on the medical records of 184 adults admitted between 2009 and 2020 to the AW Morrow Liver and Gastroenterology Centre with drug-induced liver injury.
115 were related to paracetamol
19 caused by antibiotics
15 due to herbal and dietary supplements
35 related to anti-tuberculosis or cancer drugs
The surprise was that the proportion of cases linked to herbal and dietary supplements increased from 2 in 11 (15%) between 2009 and 2011 to 10 in 19 (47%) between 2018 and 2020.
In addition, the survival rate of patients who did not have a transplant also worsened in the group of people whose liver disease was not related to paracetamol. Practitioners themselves explain that they have recently noticed more liver damage from the administration of compounds that were previously unrelated.
“I was starting to see injuries in patients admitted with liver injury after using bodybuilding supplements for men or weight loss supplements for women. I decided I’d better do a study to see if my hunch was true that more of these substances were causing these injuries,” Ken Liu, a hepatologist and co-author of the study.
The experts’ conclusion is that more rigorous regulatory oversight is needed for supplements and other natural therapeutic products. There is also a need to educate society as a whole about the risks.
Ken Harvey, a public health specialist, said the study only reviewed the most serious cases, so he fears the actual rate of illness is likely to be higher. He also assesses that many products evade controls and that a large percentage are not based on scientific evidence.